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Thanksgiving first, then Christmas

By Myrtle Virginia Thompson

The stores are getting ready for a special event. Christmas is coming! City lights are glowing, catalogs and ads are reminding us Nov. 23 is “Black Friday.” Some merchants have gone further. There is now “Black Friday Week,” supposedly time for the best bargains of the year. Nothing wrong with ads, but will we miss Nov. 22, Thanksgiving Day, the day when we should be celebrating the blessings of the past year?

I walk into one of the largest grocery stores, and my first awe-filled sight is a beautifully decorated Christmas tree. A few steps further propel me into the land of Christmas, everything from clothes to decorations to toys, all to get us ready for that great holiday.

I am not Christmas shopping, not yet anyway. I am food shopping for an early family Thanksgiving dinner. I look for a reminder of any kind that wishes me a Happy Thanksgiving. I see none. Any thoughts of Thanksgiving were submerged in commercialism. Is it because we use the word “thanks” on a regular basis and see no need for a special day to remember our blessings?

My guest and I decide to have our lunch in the store. It is there I see hanging from a cart, almost hidden from sight, a large but slightly drooping balloon with the words “HAPPY THANKSGIVING.” Has the need for a special remembrance of thanks-giving very slowly been leaking from our culture like the helium has been leaking from the balloon?

We are among the most prosperous people who ever lived. Even the poor in our country are rich in opportunities and possessions not available in other parts of the world: a house, a car, a TV, a phone, clean water, food in abundance — much more than we need. Who can deny we have been greatly blessed in this country where we have the privilege of an education and work? A thankful heart will worship. Those who observe a day of worship will also recognize the source of their blessings.

Giving thanks and receiving God’s blessing seem to be paired. Deuteronomy 28 tells us what happens when people are thankful and obedient. It also tells us what will happen when we are not. God had blessed and prospered His people, but prosperity brought them to ruin. Being thankful to Him would have meant a continual fellowship and obedience. When the people became self-willed and idolatrous, He allowed them to have it their way. When they fell into great idolatry and immorality, God removed His hand of blessing. Like them, we will also become the losers if God withdraws His blessings from us.

In Ephesians 5:20, the Apostle Paul writes, “giving thanks always for all things unto God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Let’s not forget. Thanksgiving Day is not “turkey day” or sports day or “just another holiday” allowing for some free time. It is a special time to give thanks for the privilege of worshiping a God Who has blessed us beyond measure, beyond all we deserve. Thanking Him will change our outlook on life.

Myrtle V. Thompson is a 90-year-old retired missionary, educator and writer. Contact her at mvtgrt@gmail.com.