Does anyone else have a growing concern about our gradually fading Thanksgiving holiday? Is anyone else offended that stores nationwide have already announced their Christmas shopping ads and broadcasted their earlier-than-ever Thanksgiving DAY opening times? What was once a full day completely focused on giving thanks, relaxing, and spending time with family has now become just another day for holiday shopping. I can only imagine this holiday will soon begin to feel like any other day as we put our selfish wants in front of the need to set aside time for rest and give thanks.
While Thanksgiving is not a religious holiday, it is still a national holiday set aside for giving thanks. This is the most perfect opportunity for Christians to stand up for what is simply “right”. We are commanded to give thanks daily as written in 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, “Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” There is no better opportunity for Christians to be bold and claim this ONE day a year when our entire nation sets aside to give thanks in all circumstances. I believe it is our duty to continue this worldly tradition, if nothing else just the simple opportunity to show others the importance of being thankful in all circumstances.
What would be the negative effects if Christians surrendered to the early holiday shopping hours and disregarded a day of thanks and rest? We would be those shoppers who told the world we care more about great holiday deals than we do about spending time with family. We would be the shoppers who took employees away from their families and made them spend the day on their feet dealing with crowds and selfish people. We would be the Christian shoppers who missed an opportunity to be Christ in this world by simply ignoring a national holiday for giving thanks.
So what should Christians do about the early store hours and the growing desire to skip Thanksgiving and shop all day? Is it wrong to take advantage of some good deals? What if we are spending time with family WHILE shopping? What’s so bad about feasting with family, taking a long nap, and hitting the stores before midnight?
This is a question that only you can answer and it needs to be based on the prompting of the Holy Spirit. Does God really want you to honor this day by spending time with family? Do you have a problem making time for family and need someone to make you take a day of rest? Do you NEED this day to reflect on the past year? How often do you truly give thanks in all circumstances? Would Christians really make a difference if we all held tight to the tradition of setting aside just one day for Thanksgiving?
I believe the Thanksgiving holiday is a gift. It’s a gift to our family – a paid holiday, a day we see family we may not always make time for, a day when we reflect on the previous year and give thanks to God for all things (including the happy times as well as the not-so-happy times), and a gift of just one day devoted to good food and rest. A gift to be appreciated from our Father, as started in James 1:17, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above”.
Why would we not want to take advantage of this great holiday? Why do we want to tell the world that shopping is more important than a holiday? Would we be okay if our employers took this paid holiday away and made us take vacation days since we aren’t using the day as a time to give thanks, the very intention of the holiday? What would Christians think if shopping hours and great holiday deals took over Christmas day? Would we regret allowing Thanksgiving Day to slip through our fingers?
Spend time in prayer and ask God what He wants from you. Ask Him how he wants you to spend your Thanksgiving holiday.