Did anyone else notice that Christmas decorations went up the day after Halloween? I drove into a shopping center parking lot on November 1st, and the telephone poles had morphed into candy canes. And I felt a little sad.  I love Christmas, but I’m worried that if commercialism has it’s way, we will one day completely eliminate the great holiday that precedes it. And I don’t think I’ll be the only one who will be disappointed.

It’s not just about the turkey and mashed potatoes and crispy onion green beans and pumpkin crunch (a spectacular butter laden dessert that aced pumpkin pie off our “must haves” list).

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The food is, of course, awesome. But there’s also the whole reason we come together to eat.

To pause- and give thanks.

It’s the only holiday whose name tells us what we are supposed to do. And we need this for our souls.

Thanksgiving helps us remember what we have, which for a minute helps take our focus off what’s missing.  In that respect it’s a little like death. (Stay with me here). There is nothing like a health scare to suddenly jolt you into the realization that you actually DO have a perfect life. You just didn’t notice it before.

In my last blog I wrote about Kim, who along with her husband Ken have spectacularly lived their diagnosis of cancer.  (http://blog.lauriepolich.com/touching-death-and-finding-life/)

They’ve done it by being grateful.

It’s gotten me thinking about savoring my life. Not just the good parts, but the parts I will only realize were good after they’re gone. Gratefulness is about realizing their goodness RIGHT NOW.

Ann Voskamp led us through the exercise of gratefulness in her beautiful book, One Thousand Gifts. But it strikes me that the thought of getting to a thousand may keep us from doing it at all. So how about if we start with whatever we can think of, and not put pressure on ourselves about the number.  I’ll go first:

  1. I’m thankful for my husband’s squished morning face on the pillow. It gives me my first reminder that I don’t do life alone.
  2. I’m thankful for a boy who didn’t come from my womb but lives in my heart. He reminds me every day that love is at it’s best when its delivered with open hands.
  3. I’m thankful for the biological mom who bore the son I am helping raise. Without her, my shot at being a mom would not be possible
  4. I’m thankful for my “big fat” Serbian family, with it’s siblings and half siblings, parents and step parents, in laws and out laws, and everybody who shows up at the holidays to remind me that grace and love are packaged in the family mess.
  5. I’m thankful for a church that opens it’s doors to people’s mess- and brings us all together under an empty cross to show us there’s more to come after our brief stay here. But we should still try to make that stay count.
  6. And finally, (yes this is only #6, but hey, some were long and now you won’t be intimidated making your list), I’m thankful for a baby who will be born- once more- in less than a month to show us we don’t have to make the first move toward God.

However we can be grateful for the one He made toward us.
This baby, of course, represents another holiday altogether.

But Thanksgiving is positioned just right to get us ready for His birth.

So Commercialism, let’s not lose the pilgrims in favor of rushing in with the elves.

We need those pilgrims.

They remind us of food and family and friends and one more year of celebrating everything we love and are challenged by.

Curiously, they often come in the same package.