Here we are on the cusp of the holiday season, and already we see the decorations of Christmas and corresponding holidays of the winter. As much as I like Christmas and the true meaning of it: that God became incarnate to live and die for us. I must express that the holiday that comes before it is just as important. In fact, at this point because Christmas has become fully secular. It may now be more important because it can remind us of something that Christmas used to once teach us.
Alright, time for the quick recap. The story of first thanksgiving comes from the fact that the pilgrims who came from England to start a truly Christian nation, became the first successful colony in the new world. America was not an easy place for people to come and settle in, but by the grace of God, these colonies made it. They had a feast to celebrate the goodness of God and to give thanks to Him. I know that is not all the details, but this is the gist of the story. The gist is enough to make the point I want to for this post.
Now my main point is that these holidays have become fully secular and far from the original idea that they were endowed with. Thanksgiving has been all but erased from the public eye except for a hat tip and the focus has been put upon Christmas. Even then Christmas has been changed to be a day of self-serving giving and no longer a celebration of what the day signifies. I don’t care if technically Christ was born in some other part of the year, what we set aside a day to celebrate is important. Thanksgiving and Christmas are both holidays that are about being thankful for the things that God has done. Thanksgiving being for the provision of things of life for the year and Christmas being the provision of The Son.
The problem is Thanksgiving has become about gluttony and Christmas about bringing glory to ourselves, which are both sinful and disgusting. The first because it is the glorification of a lack of self-control and the other the glorification of pride. All of it centered on the self. These holidays used to be about the glory and worship of God and now we have exchanged that for a lie. We have come to glorify things that people would not find attractive in someone else but have come to love in themselves. Even though both holidays are no longer what they once were, one of them still has preeminence over the other.
Christmas is a more important holiday than Thanksgiving. That is a statement that I could agree with without thinking twice. It is far more important that Christ has come into the world to die for us than to focus and the things of the world that God allows us to have. It is the difference between having our hearts in heaven or on earth. That is not why the world has found Christmas to be more important that Thanksgiving. Christmas has become something that can be won. It has become a competition between people to see not only who gets the best thing, but also who gives the best thing. It has become about how we can get the most people to think about how great and how wonderful I am. What I receive as a gift shows how much people love me and what I give shows how great I am. Maybe someone has said “you cannot put a price on love”, but modern Christmas has shown that you can.
We can be sure this is the reason Christmas is far more popular and far more celebrated than Thanksgiving. This is the reason the day after Halloween there are no turkeys being put up but the reindeer are coming out. Christmas has become a far better way to glorify oneself and therefore we love it more. How much pressure are we put under to try to win Christmas? To try to show that no one loves others more than me? To show that no one is more thoughtful than me? To hope that people love me as much as I think they do?
This self-serving mindset should be no surprise to the Christian who understands the total depravity of man. Romans 1 tells us that “although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish thoughts were darkened. Professing to be wise they became fools and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image like corruptible man- and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things.” (vv. 21-23) you see in our unrighteousness; we do not give thanks to whom it is due. We instead give thanks to something that we put in the place of God, like Santa Clause. It is funny that this fictitious character has the attribute that the Bible says God alone has. For example, he is omniscient, being able to see us while we are sleeping, and righteous judge, discerning those that are naughty or nice. For the adults that do not believe in Santa we give the credit to ourselves. We take the glory and give Christ the boot, hoping to see people sing our praises for the great things that we have done and given to everyone.
The unrighteousness of man is why Thanksgiving is out and this new secularized Christmas is in. “Thanksgiving” as a title shows us that we are not the source of the blessings that we have in our lives, therefore people have started calling it “Turkey Day” instead. In our unrighteousness, we not only hate God and everything about Him but we hate even any semblance of Him. This is no surprise to the Christian because Jesus said, “If the world hates you, you know that it first hated Me before it hated you.” (John 15:18) This is because true Christians represent the thing that the world hates most, Christ. It does not matter how much good we do, we are the ambassadors of Christ, and therefore a reminder of the thing they hate. The term “Thanksgiving” reminds the world that there is someone we should be thanking, instead of patting our own backs.
What should we as Christians Do? We should celebrate it properly and with the right understanding in mind. We should think about how God has provided for us. We should think about the Providence of God and how He has brought us to where we are in life. We should think about the greatest provision that He gave us in His Son. You should praise His name and worship Him in thanksgiving for the great things that he has done. As we come together with family and friends, to see that even the people that are in our lives are a gift from our great God. We should have in mind the lines of the Doxology:
“Praise God from Whom all blessings flow! Praise Him all creatures here below! Praise Him above ye heavenly host! Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost! Amen!”