Each year my husband and I (jokingly) argue about the “right” time to put up Christmas decorations. Growing up my family bought our Christmas tree the day after Thanksgiving, which commenced the decorating mayhem. He, on the other hand, believes we should give Thanksgiving the entire month of November. “Christmas gets December and Thanksgiving gets November,” he says.
I guess I don’t entirely disagree with my husband. But my practical side figures we need to enjoy Christmas decorations for as long as possible since so much effort goes into it! So for now, this silly debate will continue (Although I must say, my husband kindly gets down the decorations whenever I’m ready for them).
But regardless of when decorating starts in your house, you probably see the value in slowing down the Christmas commencement (I agree with my husband on this one!). Everywhere we look people are rushing into Christmas, mid-November mind you! This wouldn’t be bad if it meant people were excited to celebrate the birth of Jesus—but we all know that’s not the impetus! It’s the cultural (often consumeristic) version of Christmas that takes over. And that may be worth holding off on in order to gain the full benefit of Thanksgiving.
Don’t Downplay Thanksgiving
Both Thanksgiving and Christmas have great value for the Christian. Both point us to worship and thank our Creator. However, it’s harder to hijack Thanksgiving and make it about the wrong thing. In fact, there are few aspects of Thanksgiving that distract us from giving more attention to the goodness of God—unlike Christmas, when we have to fight to remember “the reason for the season.”
With that said, let’s not pass too quickly over Thanksgiving; As my husband likes to say, “Give Thanksgiving a little respect!”
Here are 3 ways to not rush past Thanksgiving:
#1. Consider Some Thanksgiving Decor
No need to spend money (unless you want to and have more storage space!), but a framed verse might be just the reminder you need to make this month about extra gratitude (Ideas: Ps 9:1, 1 Chron 16:8-10, Ps 7:17). Or find something small that communicates your home enjoys Thanksgiving!
I bring my “fall” decorations out as soon as people start decorating for Halloween. While I’m not a huge fan of decorating in dark and spooky ways, I never want my kids to see their mom as lacking in festivity. Instead, I want the festivity to come out at just the right times to highlight whatever good and godly aspects make it on the culture’s calendar.
Whether you opt for simple or elaborate, highlight the value of gratitude!
#2. Institute Some Thanksgiving Traditions
Thanksgiving traditions are the best. Reason being: most of them revolve around giving thanks! One tradition our family has done is a “Thanksgiving tree.” This consists of a handful of sticks placed in a vase. Each day we hang some paper leaves that say something we are thankful for. (If you can’t picture this, just Google search “thankful tree” and you’ll find a variety of examples.)
Some people also add “thankful leaves” to a wreath. Or you can just write on the leaves and lay them around a centerpiece. This, of course, doubles as Thanksgiving decor too!
Another idea is simply finding a time (or multiple times) for each person to share what they are thankful for. Or if you want everyone to think through their items of gratitude all week (or all month), put out a “thankful jar” where everyone writes their thoughts ahead of time. At Thanksgiving dinner, you can go around and read each one (maybe even guess who said it).
I’m sure there are 100 more traditions that spur on gratitude; Maybe start one new one this year!
#3. Speak of Gratitude
The biggest bummer of the holidays is how they take our focus off God, and put it on less important things. This is why Thanksgiving traditions are helpful. But it takes more than those planned moments to keep our hearts focused. As much as you can, speak of God’s goodness. Instead of asking people if they are ready for Christmas, ask them what they’re grateful for. Instead of having your kids start a “Christmas wish list” have them begin an “I’m thankful for…” list.
Don’t follow our culture’s lead regarding the holidays, bask in the intentional moments of gratitude, and help others to do the same.
This Needed Yearly Reminder
While we should always be grateful people, we need to be reminded to give thanks. That is the beauty of November. For 1/12 of the year Thanksgiving reminds us that “every good and perfect gift is from above” (James 1:17).
Let’s not rush past this opportunity. Let’s give Thanksgiving a little respect…which really means—Let’s take this opportunity to give a lot of extra thanks to God!