I know we have not made it through Halloween but when you have family in different states, married children with new families you learn to make plans. And seeing my first Christmas lights, well, it excited me.
The holidays! Yippee! Break out the lights! As I have said in previous columns I am a huge fan of the holidays. Over the years my wife and I have used this opportunity to open our home to many. We have had people out of prison, off the streets and folks who were “worse” off than us. We have had as many as 25 people in our living room sharing our meal. This year is somewhat different as we are “displaced” on some levels with our home, but our children and grandchildren will still be with us and who knows, maybe someone who needs company. Over the last year or so, I have lost a few friends. I am sure their spouses would appreciate the company of others. Nothing can replace the life lost, but healing is a process and it often begins with friends and family.Some of my friends dedicate this time of year to working in food shelters and kitchens. I am sure these places are in need this year, not only of finances and food, but of people. Are you like me and feel that the world is an impersonal place, hidden behind texts, chats and emails? I miss the weekly visits from friends and family. This is a time of year to begin “traditions” if you have never had any. Let me share a little of mine as a child. (I know life was simpler, so who’s choice was it to speed it up?!?!) We would get up and get ready for the day. Life was centered about the kitchen and friends who would stop by. There were no convenience stores open (Other than a Cumberland Farms and they sold milk, milk products and cigarettes.) or grocery stores to visit if you had a “oops, I forgot!” Soon after we arose, we might head out to burn off some energy with a football, but depending on the weather we would watch parades off and on. Can you imagine a black and white parade? My mom had often prepared coffee cakes, as she did for Christmas for our neighbors and we would trudge off to deliver those. The kitchen smelled of sauces, stuffing, turkey, breads, pies and vegetables. There was a table of snacks; nuts, cheeses, meats and garnishes and finger food before the real deal. Everyone helped. (Hmmm… that alone is a lot different than what I witnessed other places.) The family silver (Gosh, I hated this part!) was polished and the best dishes brought out. The table was set with linen and centerpieces from school art classes.
And somehow it all came together at the right time. Grace was said and each person shared what they were thankful for. My family was not a very religious household, but grace was said at each meal, and Thanksgiving received quite a bit more time. It was a time of fun and family..until of course dishes had to be done!
But somehow we made it through. Bowl games were watched, turkey sandwiches were made and we knew we had a few days off.
I wonder is somehow we have “missed” it for all our technology and through process. Our world is in a turmoil. I wonder if we have forgotten something about the basics. It is pretty hard to find a family not touched by divorce, or death or sickness. And yet so often, it seems like there is an avoidance of the “real deal,” the getting together and the basics surrounding it.
As I got older and my parents divorced, I was doing Thanksgiving in 3 different states with 3 different “families.” And I hated it. I hated losing the celebration in favor of the “rush.” Of families splintered and stability lost. I would like to tell you I did better, but honestly I didn’t. And now at 58, I am determined I am going to recover some of it and help my family and others to recover or perhaps even enjoy some of it for the first time.
As a Christian, I have often looked at the following scriptures from Isaiah 58.
7 “Is it not to divide your bread with the hungry And bring the homeless poor into the house; When you see the naked, to cover him; And not to hide yourself from your own flesh? and 10 And if you give yourself to the hungry And satisfy the desire of the afflicted, Then your light will rise in darkness And your gloom will become like midday. 11 “And the LORD will continually guide you, And satisfy your desire in scorched places, And give strength to your bones; And you will be like a watered garden, And like a spring of water whose waters do not fail.
“Is it not to divide your bread with the hungry And bring the homeless poor into the house”… For years I have watched people avoid people by “giving” money. I have spoken on it for many a year. Watched others shy away from bringing people into their home. We are nearing a time where “money” may not fix it. Where the ways of “old” in some respects may require a turning back to. I know many who bemoan the loss of our “innocence” as a nation, as a people. A loss of our tradition. Why do we forget about the person next door? Now before my mail box fills with letters saying “I did not forget” I assure you I have met many who have not forgotten their neighbor. Man of them write for us in fact. And hear my heart, I think many have been irresponsible with money and property. But I see many who have met up with loss through no fault of their own.
So, while it appears dim, we have an opportunity to stage an “uprising of goodness.” And maybe that goodness will spread beyond our boundaries. Maybe the gifts sent to soldiers, the letters to the incarcerated, our comfort to the widow and the orphan will change our region.
So, here is what I want you to do. Please mail me (or email) your traditions, your thoughts and your prayers. For the next month, I am going to put those on line. So, please send them to me.
This year let us get involved with one another!
And to help you focus this week!
1 Timothy 4:4 “For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving” NIV
“A thankful heart cannot be cynical.” A. W. Tozer
“We would worry less if we praised more. Thanksgiving is the enemy of discontent and dissatisfaction.” Harry A. Ironside
”On Thanksgiving Day we acknowledge our dependence.” William Jennings Bryan
“We ought to give thanks for all fortune: if it is ‘good,’ because is it good, if ‘bad’ because it works in us patience, humility, and the contempt of this world and the hope of our eternal country” C. S. Lewis
“You say, ‘If I had a little more, I should be very satisfied.’ You make a mistake. If you are not content with what you have, you would not be satisfied if it were doubled.” C H Spurgeon
“No people on earth have more cause to be thankful than ours, and this is said reverently, in no spirit of boastfulness in our own strength, but with the gratitude to the Giver of good who has blessed us.” Teddy Roosevelt
“God gave you a gift of 86,400 seconds today. Have you used one to say ‘thank you?’“ William A Ward
“True thanksgiving means that we need to thank God for what He has done for us, and not to tell Him what we have done for Him.” George R. Hendrick
Prayer: Father thank you for your daily provision in my life. In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen!
May God bless you this holiday season.