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On the weekend before Thanksgiving the mall looked like the weekend after.

Did I miss something?

Christmas was everywhere. In the parking lot, the holiday decorations, the music, the crowds, the banners screaming Sale, the man in the Santa suit.

I went to the mall with one item on my list and a coupon destined to expire before my next twice-monthly shopping trip.

But deep down my heart pained.

Thanksgiving had been shoved aside. No sign of it anywhere.

An overlooked holiday, de-valued for its lack of fun.

By-passed for the holiday with more.

It’s become the American way.

A day to just relax and reflect? Uh… reflect on what?

A time to enjoy family and community and the continuity of cherished traditions passed from one generation to another? Family? Traditions? Who needs ‘em.

A period for savoring the goodness of God toward a nation founded on the preservation of life, liberty and pursuing the happy estate of all. What? Um, not sure what you mean, but not interested.

Christmas has taken over. But, no. Christmas wouldn’t do that.

Retailers pushed the delete button on Thanksgiving, and bumped material Christmas in its place. And consumers came, are still coming. Willing participants in the age-old ritual of self-interest trumping God-interest…

Like sheep led to the slaughter.

I couldn’t wait to leave.

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On the tv at my workplace I purposely ignore Christmas advertisements in early November.

It’s not time yet. We haven’t celebrated Thanksgiving!

So, pardon me if I don’t join the folks who shove aside the mundane holidays to make their way to Christmas…

Choosing to ignore the quieter celebration of contentment.

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I don’t see how chasing endless bargains, pursuing greater accumulation of stuff, filling our basements and attics and sheds and rented storage spaces with sentimental junk, could have been in the minds of our American Founders and Leaders in declaring one day each year for looking up, with hearts full of gratitude.

Before 1863 individual states celebrated a day of festivities, their joy overflowing for the harvest of crops, with thankful praise lifted to God.

President Abraham Lincoln purposed to unite the states for a nationwide recognition of His goodness, even as a country’s inner turmoil divided the people he governed.

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Perhaps it’s a sign of maturing, but as the years go by I look forward more and more to this one day of simple pleasures.

As our kiddos have grown, as my family helps with cleaning and setting up, and placing silver, arranging flowers, extending the gift of hospitality, my spirit is uplifted by everyday tasks done with noble intent.

To celebrate.

To minister.

To express Thanksgiving.

A day of few expectations, little pressure, no increase of debt—just time to relax and reflect (especially after the apron is off and hanging on the peg).

Time for visiting and laughing, catching up, taking pictures, playing board games, walking off all those calories as the autumn sun sets and fog begins to rise from golden hills…

A day to relish the autumnal abundance of God’s over-flowing provision.

After last weekend I refuse to join the ranks in discarding the old-fashioned practice of waiting—waiting to celebrate Christmas until after Thanksgiving.

Do Americans dare allow the next generation to grow up without learning how to give thanks? To acknowledge favor bestowed from the Giver of life and breath?

In another decade will Thanksgiving have become the forgotten holiday? A relic of archaic times, a by-product of silly folklore?

Are we foolish enough to think we can afford the consequences of ingratitude?

Thanksgiving deserves more than a gluttonous nod while rushing out the door to devour endless vanity.

Oh, dear Father, may we stop on for one day this year to refuse the distractions forced upon us by carnal cravings, and open our eyes to acknowledge how blessed beyond measure we truly are. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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