There’s a trend I’ve noticed over the past several years that has started to bother me. I’ve noticed more and more that people are referring to Thanksgiving as “Turkey Day.” Now, I’m not trying to be a Debbie Downer and complain about how things used to be so much better or that Thanksgiving is under attack. In fact, one of my pet peeves is hearing people complain about how Christmas is under attack because stores hang “Happy Holidays” banners instead of Merry Christmas.
The truth is, during this season there are several holidays besides Christmas, like Thanksgiving and New Years. Then, add in the fact that there are other faith traditions that also celebrate something this season, and it makes sense that retailers in particular would want to welcome everyone to come shop at their stores and not just those that celebrate Christmas.
The reason I don’t like people referring to Thanksgiving as “Turkey Day” is that it removes the attention to something so many of us struggle with, and that is having a spirit of gratitude. Gratitude or thanksgiving can be such a difficult attitude because we are continually bombarded with the brokenness of this world. This brokenness makes life full of struggle, fear, and pain. Being thankful for when we face these challenges is not our default, and certainly not the norm.
A couple of months ago I was thinking ahead about the holiday season on the horizon and I was deeply convicted that over the past few years I have rarely had a spirit of thanksgiving. Sure, from time to time I was thankful for things, but having a true “attitude of gratitude” was far from frequent. Since then, I entered into an intentional season to prepare myself for Thanksgiving, and here is the thing I learned the most: A spirit of thanksgiving must be pursued.
During this season I was reminded several times of James 1 where it is written that we should, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds.” I recognize that James doesn’t say “Thanksgiving,” but instead uses the word “Joy,” but I tend to think that both of those go hand in hand. This life is certainly full of “trials of many kinds.” In fact, many people would use something similar to that to describe their lives. That is why we have to pursue a spirit of thanksgiving. We have to have the presence of mind to be in the very midst of these trials and actively give thanks.
This morning a situation occurred that was the latest of a string of frustrating happenings that nearly sent me over the edge. I was sitting in a parking lot when I received this news and I started to go off voicing my frustration to absolutely no one. I felt like life was unfair and that I couldn’t catch a break, but in the midst of that I was reminded of James 1 once again. James continues his thought to describe that the reason we should find joy in these trials is because God uses those things to build our faith and to make us mature and complete. In short, God doesn’t waste anything in building us to be more like him.
Today, I am thankful for that. Tomorrow, I will fry a turkey and, if all goes well, it will be amazing and I will be incredibly happy to eat it. But, tomorrow is not “Turkey Day.” It is Thanksgiving Day. A day to pursue a spirit of gratitude and to reflect and share what we are thankful for. Some of you have suffered enormous loss this year, and all of us have been hurt many times, but I encourage you to pursue thanksgiving to our Savior who is never done with us, and who we owe our whole lives to.