Don’t leave the thanks for Thanksgiving

Spread the thankfulness, giving and joy of this holilday season throughout the year.

Andrew Oxenham, Writer

A constant companion on my travels throughout the globe is a small, black, Moleskine notebook. In it, I jot down thoughts as they hit me throughout the day. Just last Thursday, people all over the United States celebrated Thanksgiving, a holiday designed after a day in which people’s needs were met in a generous way, early American settlers were benefited by a gracious gift of food and supplies given by nearby Native Americans. This holiday came to be known as Thanksgiving — a day that has currently morphed into a day of feasting filled with people giving thanks for various things in their lives.

Today, Thanksgiving (which is always on a Thursday) is regularly followed by what is known as Black Friday, the day when corporations across the country slash their prices dramatically in attempts to lure out customers, thereby making obscene profits and hopefully putting them into the “black,” the space in finances where a corporation finishes the repayment of debts and begins to make profit. This was the thought that I jotted down in my notebook, mainly the interesting contrast between a day of consumer want, paired with a holiday which encourages us to celebrate a lack of want.

Unfortunately, holidays are a prompt which force people to act in a certain way. If it’s Valentine’s Day and one is in a committed relationship, one must buy flowers and chocolates. If it is Christmas, one must purchase gifts for loved ones, and Thanksgiving is no different. On Thanksgiving it is traditional to say things that one is thankful for. Yet as Christians we ought to be careful to not only appear grateful or generous on specific holidays.

Recently I was engaged in conversation with a 40-something friend of mine, Caleb, from South Korea. I inquired as to whether he would be following American tradition and giving his wife something for Christmas. His response to me was that, although he would most likely follow American tradition and purchase a gift for his wife on Christmas Day, he preferred to buy gifts for his wife only when his heart moved him to do so. When I further asked how often his heart was moved to buy gifts for his wife, he informed me that it was between 8 to 15 times a month. Unfortunately, not many people I know have a heart like Caleb. The holidays did not dictate his demonstrated love for his wife, nor his expression of that love. Instead, the care and passion within him moved him to act in an admirable way, no matter what the holidays or traditions called for.

As we move away from Thanksgiving and toward Christmas, this holiday season let us be reminded to not let the holidays be the only time we give gifts, spend an entire day celebrating what we’re thankful for or spread holiday cheer. The gifts need not be expensive, the acts need not be oversized. They may just be a small rose picked from the garden or a little sticky note with a kind message written on it. Let us remember people like Caleb and model our behavior in similar ways, being thankful constantly, generous often and loving always.

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