AUTHOR'S NOTE: When I wrote this essay some time back I left out one interesting little fact, and that is, that I am the least likely individual to write anything about a holiday, much less a book. I say that simply because throughout my adult life, I have never celebrated any holidays including Christmas, not for any religious convictions, but, probably simply because I find holidays and birthdays vain, and a colossal waste of energy, money, and time. In fact, this will shock you, there were certain holidays that I used to hate to see come around, simply because places like the bank and the post office would shut down for no good reason, in my humble opinion.
Yes, I was a literal Scrooge and still am to some degree, I guess. But for some reason, somehow, the Spirit of THANKSGIVING reached out and took me in out of the "non-holiday" cold and warmed my heart in a big way, so much so, that I was compelled to write this little book. I was not looking for Thanksgiving, Thanksgiving found me. This is what I mean when I say in the essay, "Thanksgiving happens to you." There is a power in the spirit of Thanksgiving that affects you far more than what you contribute to it. I am convinced that a person is in a spiritual coma if he or she cannot recognize a special presence of God during Thanksgiving week, when an entire nation of over 300 million people are at least recognizing and thanking the God Who made them, whether they want to or not. When I wrote this piece, I tried to convey two things:
1. The radiant spirit of Thanksgiving in the natural, that is, the physical blessings of God that we humans (or at least I) enjoy during that time.
2. The radiant spirit of Thanksgiving in the Spirit realm, that is, the glory that our loving God deserves and receives from us during that time of the year, especially.
Believe it or not, I normally do not struggle to write anything, but this piece was strangely difficult to compose and to convey. I tried to express the emotions, the feelings, and the spirit of Thanksgiving that I, and I am sure others feel, with the true meaning and purpose of this wonderful holiday called Thanksgiving, simultaneously. I hope that I have succeeded.
We do not make Thanksgiving happen. Thanksgiving happens to us. What I mean by that is: even though some wise people, many years ago, prompted by God, of course, started what is now called the Thanksgiving holiday to give thanks for the mercies, blessings, and provisions of a loving God, God has taken a very special interest in this holiday called Thanksgiving, because it brings glory to Him. God is very interested in His glory. When Thanksgiving comes, I don't know about you, but I sense more than ever the presence of Almighty God.
GOD INHABITS THE PRAISE OF HIS PEOPLE
Thanksgiving is a glorious holiday. For my family, the entire Thanksgiving week is an easy going, laid back time of enjoying God's goodness and praising Him. Thanksgiving is not just a holiday to us, it is a spiritual activity; it is a state of mind; it is an emotion--a positive emotion. It is a feeling--a positive feeling. No, we don't make Thanksgiving happen. Thanksgiving happens to us. When a group of people gather together around that theme of thanking and praising God, not only does God get the glory, but strangely, something happens to those who give Him that glory. Being in a Thanksgiving state of mind is not about the Pilgrims and the Indians. When we are truly in the spirit of Thanksgiving, or in that Thanksgiving state of mind, it is not just about family. It is not just about eating. It is not just about traveling. It is much bigger than that.
Yes, when I am in that Thanksgiving state of mind, I think of relaxation. I think of wearing comfortable, plush sweat pants and shirts, lounging around, taking it easy, napping and watching the football game all at the same time, and anticipating a great meal. However, Thanksgiving is bigger than that.
When I am in that Thanksgiving state of mind, I think about cool southern weather on the outside, with the golden leaves falling down in their order; but warm and comfortable on the inside, with heat coming from the fireplace, and not to mention the pleasant aroma and warmth coming from the kitchen. More importantly, I think about how good God has been to me.
When I am in that Thanksgiving state of mind, I also think about family. Being together as a family for Thanksgiving is a beautiful thing, and, well, it should be. A Thanksgiving holiday family get-together ought not to be a contest between sisters-in-law or mothers-in-law or siblings. It ought not ever to be what it commonly turns out to be--an argument about something that happened twenty years ago, or some kind of guilt trip that someone tries to place on someone, or a series of power plays put on by the Queen Bee that stirs up a sour spirit for the rest of the Thanksgiving day and weekend. No, a thousand times NO! Thanksgiving does not have to be that way and should not be that way. In my humble opinion, family members, mothers included, ought to be barred from the next Thanksgiving holiday celebration if they cause a stink during Thanksgiving and if they do not get it right. Be that as it may, Thanksgiving ought to be a happy experience from beginning to end, and God ought to be the center of it all.
When in that Thanksgiving state of mind, I also think about others. No matter what you may think about ol' Hosea Williams from Atlanta, the former civil rights worker under Martin Luther King, Jr., he was faithful to feeding more people each Thanksgiving than you and I will feed in ten lifetimes. He cared about the poor and down and out during the Thanksgiving holiday, and we ought to be concerned about the less fortunate as well. As you will find later in this book, I believe that each of us ought to help somebody less fortunate than ourselves, either here in America or in some foreign land, during the Thanksgiving holiday week.
Also, when I am in that Thanksgiving state of mind, I also think of the dying of another year--a year that we had never seen before and a year that we shall never see again. During Thanksgiving week, I reflect on my accomplishments and even on my failures of the past year. I normally do not set any major goals for the next five weeks or so of the dying year. Thanksgiving is the week the life support system for the dying year is cut off, and we humbly and joyfully coast to the colossal holiday we call Christmas; and then a few days after that, on to the exciting holiday and new beginning of New Years Day. This entire period of ease between Thanksgiving and New Years is given by God, I believe, for relaxation and reflection and for giving thanks. I believe this period that begins at Thanksgiving is God's way of saying, "See, I really don't need your help. All that you were anxious about at the beginning of the year has all come to pass. I provided for you and brought you through. I love you, but I don't need your help. All I desire is just your obedience, your praise and your thanksgiving."
With that said, I am reminded of a poster I saw in an insurance office. It read:
Good morning. I am God.
I will be handling all of your problems today.
And I won't be needing your help,
So relax and enjoy your day. --God
Friend of mine, don't fight the relaxed atmosphere and feeling that you get during this time. Enjoy it! For after January 1, the fight resumes and you will have plenty to do.
Finally, when I am in that Thanksgiving state of mind, my spirit and my soul are overwhelmed by gratitude and thanksgiving to my God Who has "brought me from a mighty long way." I can say with my dad, "God has smiled on me." In spite of my failures and faults, God, in his love and mercy, has blessed me, and is still blessing me. God is a good God. God is a merciful God. God is a forgiving God. God is a delivering God and He deserves all of our praise and thanks. Let us not only do it on the fourth Thursday of the month of November, but each day of the year, let us be in a Thanksgiving state of mind.
This article is an excerpt from the book, Money Under the Car Seat and Other Things to Thank God For, by Daniel Whyte III. Buy the complete book now for just $2.99 on Amazon Kindle (click here). Find out more about the book at www.MoneyUndertheCarSeat.com. Also, you may enter a free Twitter contest for a chance to win this book and two other Thanksgiving ebooks free (click here for details).