Easter, Thanksgiving, Christmas – basically, anything that included a feast – those were definitely the go-to’s; days filled with hours upon hours of meal preparation, spending the entire afternoon with grandparents, visits from relatives you often didn’t see otherwise, and the promise of a top-pant-button-unfastened full belly and delectable leftovers for microwaveable-reheats to come.
Think back on your own fondest moments and memories from childhood. If your yesteryear was anything like mine, holidays are seated firmly atop the leaderboard.
As for THE favorite, I’d suspect that many will hearken back to the awe and wonder of Christmas mornings; all the suspense and anticipation the event had to offer, complete with yet-to-be-unearthed treasures awaiting their respective turns to be shredded open beneath wondrously decorated Christmas trees, adorned by festively designed wrapping papers of sleigh bells, snowmen, and reindeer.
As a preemptive measure, let me be clear: Christmas was a BIG deal in our home (especially as an only child with very generous grandparents that took great fulfillment in living up to all joys and perks their role entailed). Christmas lights, inner-tubes (more maneuverable than sleds), the wish for a multiple-foot-deep unleashing of snow that’d ensure a week’s worth of Snow Days to keep me home from school; and those were all just the longings to attribute to my father.
But… There was just something about Thanksgiving. Even as a youngster that couldn’t quite yet grasp the entirety of what the holiday was “really” about – you know, aside from the essentials: turkey, stuffing, pies and pies and pies, and football – I remember a difference in demeanor of the adults around me. It was unlike any other of our ‘holy days,’ Christmas included. You always did (mostly) your best to behave (or just avoid getting caught), but there was a certain tangible reverence in the air when it came to Thanksgiving Day and, accordingly, how you should conduct yourself. That’s what I recollect most clearly; when it was evident the occasion meant something more than any other typical day.
We were not a church-going family. We didn’t pray before meals, didn’t adorn our Sunday best, and didn’t discuss God (and certainly not Jesus) in any capacity. It wasn’t relevant; we led a pretty busy life and no mention of including God into it was ever steered to the forefront of our attention. This isn’t to say we were anti-Religion (although I did believe I was Atheist at one point), but it was just never part of the discussion, never brought into consideration.
Thanksgiving, though; if there were ever a time I can look back and see myself experiencing the Presence of the Lord being firmly planted in my midst, it’s crystal clear He was abiding right there in the room with us. While I was still none the wiser, God was molding and fashioning me to learn how to acknowledge that His Presence was and is dwelling amongst us.
Before I ever knew any semblance of who He was, He was teaching me reverence.
Before I ever learned to recognize His voice, He was calling my name.
Before I ever knew I was running the other direction, He was drawing me near.
Before I ever had any notion of my need for a Savior, He was displaying signs of His unending Grace and Patience, allowing my discovery to take place squarely within the safety of His Hand.
We all grew to learn about the Pilgrims, Plymouth Rock, and the traditions surrounding the holiday here in the States. What will forever strike the biggest chord in my memory is discovering how the Lord used Thanksgiving to instill in me an understanding for those moments where we need only to give Him thanks, praise His name, and declare that He is Lord.
Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving.
– Psalm 95:2
Surely the righteous shall give thanks to Your name; the upright shall dwell in Your presence.
– Psalm 140:13
All of this is for your benefit. And as God’s grace reaches more and more people, there will be great thanksgiving, and God will receive more and more glory.
– 2 Corinthians 4:15
And give thanks for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
– Ephesians 5:20
Here young adults share their struggles and victories to encourage you on your Christian journey. You are never alone! God is with and for you and we always praying for you!