I’ve been preparing for Thanksgiving all week. Besides the grocery runs and house cleaning, I’ve cooked two casseroles, baked three pies, whipped up a relish, and brined a turkey.
However, my Thanksgiving won’t be complete without adding a few more ingredients, and neither will yours.
We all could probably employ more humility on a year-round basis, but this trait deserves special note at Thanksgiving.
Our forefathers came as strangers and immigrants to a foreign land. The first European-Americans were not the powerful, privileged people that many are today. They were struggling and needy.
They also committed great wrongs. Our Thanksgiving heritage is a muddled one, and those of us with an European-American ancestry must own up to some glaring sins in our history.
RELEVANT magazine writer Brandon Peach reminds us, “Just years after the ‘First Thanksgiving,’ John Winthrop, the governor of Massachusetts, set into motion the massacre of Native Americans that would last for more than 200 years and nearly wipe out their population from what became the United States.”
It takes humility to acknowledge the tainted history surrounding that first Thanksgiving and the cost of the bounty we now enjoy.
It also takes humility to come to a table with friends and family whose ideas on politics and religion are vastly different from ours. According to NPR, nearly 60% of Americans are dreading the political discussions bound to come up around their tables this year.
While it’s important to have strong values and to concern ourselves with our nation and our theology, our conversations should never be marked by arrogance or by scorn for those who disagree with us.
Out of that humility can come grace. When we humbly admit our failures and limitations, we free ourselves to respond graciously to the shortcomings of others. When we admit that our knowledge is imperfect, we are less likely to brow-beat our families with it. When we recognize our privileges and the suffering of others, we stop holding our success up as a point of pride.
When our loved ones annoy or offend us this Thanksgiving, we would do well to remember the times that we have offended others. Hopefully, this will incline us towards patience and kindness.
This is an essential component to celebrating the holiday; what is Thanksgiving if not appreciating what we have? Our focus should be directed towards our blessings, rather than bemoaning what we lack. That contentment should extend after Thanksgiving Day, to Black Friday, Cyber Monday and beyond.
As humility brings forth grace, contentment produces generosity. By recognizing our abundance, may we also realize how much we can share with others.
Although accounts of the first Thanksgiving differ in their portrayal of events, this holiday recognizes that the first European-Americans were strangers, immigrants and refugees. They were needy and vulnerable. That knowledge should inspire us to reach out to those in need, instead of isolating ourselves behind a wall of plentiful, fattening food.
The most obvious ingredient, gratitude, is related to contentment, but not the same. Contentment, according to Merriam-Webster Dictionary, means to be satisfied with one’s possessions or condition.
Gratitude is more than that. It’s a response towards the source of our blessings.
Thanksgiving is an opportunity beyond the everyday to celebrate God and all that He has given us.
For some this year, it may be legitimately difficult to recognize their blessings because of pain, loss, disease, or heartache. However, there is one blessing we can celebrate that never changes, diminishes, or fails: the sacrifice of God’s son, Jesus Christ, for us.
If this year we are lonely, broke, sick, or hurting, we can still give thanks for God’s presence now and an eternity to come, full of good things with Him.
When we fill our minds with thoughts of this, the other ‘ingredients’ to a joyful Thanksgiving fall into place.
Image courtesy: Thinkstockphotos.com
Posted November 25, 2017