This is a guest devotion written by my mom, Estelene. Be blessed as she shares with us.
Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth.
Worship the Lord with gladness;
come before him with joyful song.
Know that the Lord is God.
It is he who made us, and we are his;
we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.
Enter his gates with thanksgiving
and his courts with praise;
give thanks to him and praise his name.
For the Lord is good and his love endures forever;
his faithfulness continues through all generations.
A few weeks ago I decorated my apartment with the few fall decorations I possess. I am not a big fan of the cold damp weather that fall ushers in. And to tell you the truth, since I know what follows, I view fall as the opening gate to the bitter cold weather of winter.
But I believe I have enjoyed this fall more than ever before. I haven’t even minded the cloudy rainy days. As a matter of fact, on some rainy days, I will pour a cup of coffee or steep a cup of hot tea and sit outside on my covered deck and listen to it rain.
October has passed and November has arrived. We said goodbye to Halloween and have officially entered the Thanksgiving holiday season. Besides the pile of frozen turkeys filling up the bins in the meat department of the grocery story, it is a little difficult to tell that this special day is soon approaching. Oh it gets tangled up with Christmas and New Years to the point where we consider this time of year as “the holiday season”.
But the fact is that Thanksgiving has its own special meaning. My question is “Have we forgotten the true meaning of Thanksgiving?” Black Friday has crept into Thanksgiving Day. It used to be that stores opened early on Friday morning for the Christmas super sales. Last year most stores opened late Thanksgiving night. This year, one store chain is planning on being open on Thanksgiving morning.
Some of my family members said a few years ago that Thanksgiving was their favorite holiday because it was the only religious holiday that had not gone commercial. Well that concept doesn’t exist anymore. I can’t stand this madness. When is it going to stop? Can we not take one day out of the year to honor God for his faithfulness to us and our country? He has blessed our country beyond all measure.
The early settlers suffered severely and many, many of them lost their lives. Yet they took time out to gather together and celebrate God’s goodness. They worshiped God with sincere and joyful hearts, as written in Psalm 100, for bringing them through their first winter and the hope that He would provide a bountiful crop of corn that summer.
I will be the first one to say that the aroma of pumpkin pies baking in the oven, and the dining room table lavished with turkey, dressing, and all of the yummy fixins that go along with them create a festive ambiance. Families from far and near gather together to celebrate this holiday. I love the time I get to spend with my extended family on Thanksgiving Day. But it is not about stuffing our bellies, watching football games all afternoon, curling up and snoozing because we are exhausted from our everyday busy lives, or planning our shopping spree so that we can fight our way through the crowds as soon as the doors open to our favorite stores.
When I was a child, the only business that was open on Thanksgiving Day was a gas station. Usually one station in each town stayed open to provide service for those who were traveling. Families had to pack their own food and drinks and take them with them when they traveled. Convenient stores did not exist. Today restaurants, gas stations, grocery stores, and even the movie theatres are open.
What is it going to be like when the children of this generation are grown? I fear that Thanksgiving Day will become just another day, and the true meaning of this precious holiday will be forgotten.
I pray that this Thanksgiving God’s children will praise His holy name and with a thankful heart enter his presence singing praises to He who has given us life and who has been truly faithful in all circumstances. Remind your children of the reason why we celebrate Thanksgiving. Remind them that God’s goodness has lasted and will continue to last throughout all generations.
Next week I will share with you how my family celebrates Thanksgiving. But today I leave you with a poem I wrote several years ago. It is about a child who questions the reason why people celebrate Thanksgiving. This poem is one children’s book out of ten I have written in my holiday series.
Why We Celebrate Thanksgiving
Today is Thanksgiving, but I am not happy
Even though I know I should be.
My heart won’t let go of an unanswered question
That lingers inside of me.
I’ve often wondered why Thanksgiving Day
Is a day we all celebrate.
All grownups do is eat too much
Then complain ‘cause they’ll probably gain weight.
While pondering this question inside my head
And the answer never coming to my mind.
My curiosity got the best of me.
The answer I needed to find.
Who could I trust to tell me the truth?
Whose wisdom is like no other?
I knew whom to ask after I thought for a moment.
There’s no one wiser than my mother.
But how could I ask her? It was not a good time
For dinner she was trying to prepare.
I couldn’t bother her, at least not today.
Could I or would I dare?
I needed to know, it was important to me.
This celebration to me made no sense.
I had to find out one way or the other.
I could not stand the awful suspense.
I peeked around the kitchen door
To see what I could see.
There she stood with her apron on
As busy as she could be.
Mom turned and saw me standing there.
While she worked she said, “Come here.”
She wiped her hands, looked straight at me, and said,
“What’s on your mind, my dear?”
I began to tell her how I’ve often wondered
Why Thanksgiving we would celebrate.
Mom smiling at me, said, “Sit right down.
Dinner will just have to wait.”
She said Thanksgiving is a special day,
A day that we hold so dear.
We thank God for the many blessings
We receive throughout the year.
She said it began back in 1619
When some English settlers did arrive
At Berkeley Plantation on the James River.
They were thankful just to be alive.
They made a requirement to set aside
Each year one certain day
To observe as a day of thanksgiving
And honor it in a special way.
Then Plymouth colonists settled in America.
Their first winter was hard you see.
Half the people had lost their lives
In the Massachusetts colony.
In 1621 the arrival of summer
Brought great hope from despair.
They expected their crop of corn to be good.
With others they wanted to share.
They invited their friends, the Indians
To a festival early that fall.
The feasting and playing lasted three full days.
Thanks to God filled the hearts of them all.
After 1941 it has always been observed
On the fourth Thursday of November.
We give thanks to God on this special day,
And our blessings we take time to remember.
Right at that moment I came to realize
What Thanksgiving meant to me.
I was thankful for my mom and dad.
God had blessed me abundantly.
So when I said my prayers that night
I got down on my knees
And thanked God for Thanksgiving Day
And for my family.