Who Will Save Thanksgiving?
This Holy Day is trampled in the Christmas rush.

Wal-Mart announced this week they will return the word "Christmas" to their seasonal greetings. Good move, especially given their faithful hick-hop constituency. No more generic salutations that so many of us carped about last year, when many merchants dropped Christ from his own holy day so as not to offend non-believers.

We still have a way to go. The nearby nursery is advertising "Holiday Trees" and the local school is staging a "Winter Pageant" with small children singing, "We wish you a Merry Sparkle Season!" But before we restart the campaign to reChristianize Christmas, would someone please save Thanksgiving?

I thought we had made some progress a couple of years ago when retailer Macy's repented of renaming their annual streetside festival "The Macy's Day Parade," abandoning thanks altogether. But now, it seems to me the beachhead is slipping. This year the radio station in my city that plays wall-to-wall Christmas music plugged in Rudolph earlier than ever. The station manager saw two snowflakes outside his office window at 10 a.m. on November 2 and by noon had switched the format to 24-hour Christmas tunes. True story. Chalk one up for Santa. And the advertising department.

We're losing Thanksgiving.

I don't mean to sound like Chicken Little (or Turkey Lurkey?), but the one day set aside to contemplate our blessings and their divine origin has, in one generation, been reduced to a football orgy and now, for football widows, a jumpstart on the biggest shopping day of the year as more stores open on the sacred Thursday.

In years past, I have always looked forward to the annual recitation of things we're thankful for, both around my own table and in the public discourse. Chicago Tribune columnist Joan Beck captured it so well with her annual and often alliterative Thanksgiving prayer:

"Our Father's God to Thee, author of Liberty, we thank you for fathers and founding fathers and father figures, for the Internet if we can figure it out and interactive TV if we can manage it, for sundaes and Saturdays and TGIF, for DNA and AZT and CD-ROM, for a port in the storm and a bridge over trouble, for cocoa after caroling and dawn after dark, for healing after hurt and rest after work, and blessed promise of life after life forevermore" (from her 1994 column).

But dear Joan Beck is dead. Santa is seizing November. And Pilgrims, once champions of religious freedom, are being sacrificed as bigots on the altar of political correctness. So who's calling us all to give thanks now?

November 22, 2006

Displaying 1–5 of 5 comments

Nate

November 28, 2006  6:10pm

After watching the History Channel's, "Desperate Crossing: The Untold Story of the Mayflower"... it is easy to see why we no longer think of Thanksgiving properly. While it got all 'the facts right' (which made it bearable)... the guest scholars totally missed the point: The Pilgrims sacrificed everything so they could worship God according to the way they felt the Bible instructed them to worship. Holidays needs to be brought back to the events that inspired them. Most Christians no longer even care about Biblical literacy so it doesn't surprise me that the story of the Pilgrims falls on deaf ears in most households. As revisionist history... most have bought into the lie that the 'Little Congregation from Scrooby' is a symbol of American Indian exploitation. The best modern historians give the Pilgrims is that they demonstrated that interdependence should be a way of life. Nice stuff, but nothing you'd think someone would give up life for. The Story of the Pilgrims is our story... people who gave everything to do what they felt God wanted from them. William Bradford made every effort to keep the peace with the native populations for he knew that he was dependent upon them. It was better for him to have half his population die and to subjugate himself to the mercy of the Indians than to endure the compromise of a corrupt English church in a 'safe' English landscape. Jewish holidays in the Bible are great examples: The Passover recalls Moses's liberation from Egypt... The Feast of Purim recalls Esther saving the Jews from destruction. Next Thanksgiving... pick up Bradford's "Of Plymouth Plantation" and start reading excerpts to your children. You will rediscover the great lost treasure of American history and realize that the Pilgrims were Christians for all time and for all nationalities. They were truly people driven by the belief their citizenship was in heaven first and to King James second.

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Michael

November 28, 2006  1:49pm

In a culture that seems to be obsessed with self, it is good to see people look outside of themselves every once in a while. Anything that the church can do to help others see their need for one another will be a step in the right direction. Thanksgiving has always reminded me of community. Most of us would agree that the body of Christ is all about community. May we focus on some "non-wacky ways" to communicate the love that Christ has for others through service and mercy.

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jill

November 27, 2006  3:55pm

the world has gone a little crazy i think, especially in america and is fast catching on in the UK, We need help from God and for christians to make a stand in a non wacky way - if you know what i mean! Too many flakes out there give christians a bad name,,,, they dont speak for the majority so why do they get a platform and a voice? Jill (UK)

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Carl Holmes

November 27, 2006  6:37am

It is incumbent upon Christians today to remember Thanksgiving. As the weary pilgrims of Israel made their ascent to the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, they sang with the journey yet on their hearts: "How lovely is your dwelling place, O LORD Almighty! My soul yearns, even faints, for the courts of the LORD; my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God" (84:1-2). How long has it been since we have truly said MY heart and MY flesh CRY OUT FOR YOU OH GOD! The Pilgrims of Israel would spend days in dreary conditions just to go to the temple to give thanks for what they have been given. Thanksgiving is as much about celebrating the journey that we have been on, and are still on, as it is about remembering what the pilgrims did. When we stop and say to our children "remember the past" without showing them how it applies to their future, we will keep losing this part of the culture war.

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Richard

November 24, 2006  5:31am

I read once that the darker the sky is the brigther the stars shine. It appears to me that Christianity, in some sense to me, has takened this earthly rotation as home in it's effort to emulate the world as it's "Hiding Place" it's "Sweet spot." after all, aren't we the good guys? We sometimes pledge our allegience to a God given but failing ground. We sometimes see strength in numbers and have and look at the world and believe that we see it all by our interpitation. What we desire most of all, appears at times, that we want a outward peace at all times, regardless of the cost to us inside. We can raise Jesus up to draw men unto Him nationaly as in holidays and be strong in numbers, but it is in our daily routines in the moment as individuals that we lift Him up to express our salvation (from our self-seperated selfs) and let Him draw all men unto Him by His Life in us, as us. ( Yes, as us.) There has little changed since the fall of man, other than it has been dealt with and the curtain is rent from top to bottom. Reckon yourselves dead to sin but alive to God is preached mostly as positional and has little to do with our God in the present moment. We have less the mind of Christ as we focus more on ourselves and our God given weaknesses and less on Him who is our God given strenght. We want to conform for our salvation rather than be cursed that some may be saved. Weymouth Rom.8:19 For all creation, gazing eagerly as if with outstretched neck, is waiting and longing to see the manifestation of the sons of God. Merry Christmas

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