Making Thanksgiving Real

Thanksgiving is one of the great holidays of the year.    These days when so much is determined by commercial value, it is being swallowed up between Halloween and Christmas.  I will do my best to see that never happens because Thanksgiving has so much to contribute to our lives.   

So the question is how do we keep Thanksgiving real and prevent it from going by in a blur between November busyness and Black Friday shopping sprees.    Here are my suggestions.

  1.  Know and teach the history of our Thanksgiving Holiday.   Right now you can download a short summary from   A longer and much more informative version is at
  2.  Don’t let the busyness of the season crowd out the family dimension.   Thanksgiving is still one of the holidays of the year most associated with family togetherness.  Let’s take advantage of that by sharing activities together in addition to the meal.
  3. Decorate for Thanksgiving, not just for fall or Christmas.  Even if you are starting to put Christmas things up afterwards, let the Thanksgiving table decoration remain for a few days to remind everyone.    

We also must remember the sacred dimension of the season.  Thanksgiving requires that we humble ourselves before God and honor the bounty of his hand, both spiritual and physical.    Thanksgiving is an attitude commanded for all seasons anyway so in this season we remind ourselves of those commands and we take special care to practice them.  “Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever” (Ps. 107:1 NIV).   “Give thanks to the Lord, call on his name; make known among the nations what he has done.  Sing to him, sing praise to him; tell of all his wonderful acts” (Ps 105:1-2 NIV).  This leads to two more suggestions.

  1.  Attend a service at your church that is especially set aside to celebrate Thanksgiving.   Our service is tonight at 7 pm.
  2. At your Thanksgiving Table, take time to give thanks to God by sharing things you are thankful for and then having a prayer of thanksgiving.   Many families go around the table quickly before the table grace and have each one share one thing they are thankful for.

Another dimension of true thanksgiving is generosity.  If we are truly thankful to God for all that we have, we will want to share with others.  So another great part of every Thanksgiving is giving.  I wonder if Christmas would be as powerful in giving if it were not preceded by Thanksgiving.    So more suggestions come to mind.

  1. At Thanksgiving, share with someone locally who is in need.  Many local churches give baskets to those in need.  I also highly recommend the Syracuse Rescue Mission at
  2. Help someone in the third world.  We in the United States have so much that our Thanksgiving should overflow to help others in our big world who suffer.  I recommend World Hope at

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