Thanksgiving? Christmas? Remember those days? As I write this, it is the week before Thanksgiving and I just drove through a neighborhood where almost half of the houses already have their Christmas decorations up. Of course, the stores have been advertising Christmas for weeks and there are so many ads for not just “Black Friday,” but also “Black week” – a time for Christmas shopping and special prices.
I wonder how many of us really remember (or even know) the reasons behind our holidays. Thanksgiving Day was decreed as a national holiday in 1941 by the U.S. Congress as a day of “prayer and thanksgiving to God.” It is supposed to be a day when we the people of the nation along with our fellow citizens give thanks to God for the blessings in our lives, communities, and nation. However, Thanksgiving is now mostly about family gatherings, family travel, Thanksgiving Dinner, football, and preparing for the big sales the next day.
I wonder how many of us really remember (or even know) that Christmas is a national holiday set aside to remember the birth of Jesus, the Messiah. Christmas is a time in which we remember that God entered into our world fulfilling hundreds of prophecies from the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament) living, dying, and rising from the dead for the salvation of human beings. However, Christmas is mostly about decorations, gifts, family-time, Santa, reindeer, and special music.
The ancient Church calendar reminds us that Christmas begins on December 25 (or the 24th on the Eve) and lasts for 12 days. It is preceded by the season of Advent, a time of preparation for the Messiah’s return and for remembering the Messiah’s birth.
Remember the holidays? I hope you will this year. Christmas can be a deeply spiritual and meaningful time as one recalls the birth of Jesus, prays for spiritual renewal, and celebrates the transformation He brings to one’s life and community. Take time to remember the real holidays this year! Go to church somewhere on Christmas Eve. Give of yourself to help someone. Spend some extra time in prayer. It will make all the difference in your holiday!