Do you love Thanksgiving Day? I do. I love Thanksgiving Day more than any other holiday. It’s not about decorating. It’s not about presents. It’s not about spending money. Instead, it’s about giving thanks to our precious Lord for His great and manifold blessings unto us and about gathering together with those you love to celebrate His blessings and to enjoy one another’s company and a good meal.
But for all of the joy it brings to me, Thanksgiving Day is a rather poignant day for me. Thanksgiving Day 1997 was the last day I saw my mother alive. It was a good day, the day I like to remember her by. She was in a good mood that day, unhindered by the depression and anger that so often accompanied her visits. We enjoyed her time with us tremendously. I had five young children then, the youngest being 9 months old. Mama spent the day holding the baby and loving on him and giving hugs and kisses to her other grandchildren. A good day but one that dances in my memories with shades of sorrow. Less than three weeks later, she’d be dead.
Thanksgiving Day is also a poignant day to me for other reasons. Overwhelmed by God’s goodness in allowing us such a day of hope, prayers and celebration, I can’t help but think about how blessed we are that we even have food on the table and a roof over our heads; I also can’t help but remember that many don’t. My family has struggled quite a bit for nearly a decade. We’ve done without and made do and sometimes it just hasn’t been enough. Yet with all we’ve gone through and all we do without, I see so many who struggle so much more than we do. In the city we live in it’s common to see the homeless and needy wherever you go. They are everywhere. I know some folks get angry at having someone approach them and ask for help but I just can’t. I can’t help but think that that, but for the grace of God, it could be one of us. Not every homeless person is homeless because they’re a drunk or because they’ve made poor decisions. Sometimes things happen to us that are out of our control. I know; my family has come so close to being homeless ourselves. So when I look into the eyes of a man asking for a dollar for food, I know he could be playing on my sympathies and really wanting it for whiskey but I also know he just might really be hungry. I prefer to err on the side of kindness. I don’t have much to give–we often don’t have enough for ourselves–but if I see someone who is obviously in need and I have anything at all to share, I’m going to. I encourage you to do the same. Sometimes just taking the time to look into their eyes, acknowledging their humanity, treating them with dignity, speaking a kind word to them, praying for them, means more than anything else can. It’s also a good chance to tell them about Jesus, what He did for you and why you care about what happens to them.
Mostly though, Thanksgiving Day is poignant because I have a God to thank for all of His mercies. I have a God Who was willing to lay down His life for me. Nothing I go through, nothing I do without, comes close to what He suffered for me, not just on the cross but in His life. He too knew poverty and trials and because He did, He understands my needs just a little bit keener. Because of Him and His gift of life, of salvation, of freedom and of one more day, we give thanks.
I hope your Thanksgiving Day was good. Ours, though small, was absolutely amazing.
Soli Deo gloria!