Written and Shared by: Chaplain Chris Belfield
I readily confess that I am set in my ways about certain things. Of course, much of this can be attributed to my upbringing by grandparents who were traditionalists at heart. Take the seasons and holidays, for example. Regardless of what the weather may be doing, it is still a particular season. I smile when I see a winter storm warning in November as it is still technically Fall. I know – it's all a matter of semantics, but
nonetheless, there are the etiquettes to be observed. It can be 30 degrees and snowing to beat all on the flip side, but if it is on or after March 21st, then it is Spring, and it is a Spring snowstorm rather than a winter snowstorm. Weird, I know, but it's worked for me for this past half-century plus.
Now about the holidays. This tends to be more personal and frustrating due to the societal and marketing changes over the years. Back in the day, and I am talking way back in the day, everything had a proper time on the calendar to be celebrated or prepared. It started with the day after Labor Day, i.e., back to school day. But that was OK because the following month, there was Halloween at the end of October. This was quickly followed by a day off from school for Veterans Day. Halloween was commemorated by decorations and dreams of candy treasure unlimited. Living in a tightly packed suburban area meant lots of houses within a relatively short distance. The next day at school, we would bring whatever we really didn't like to trade for what we did like. Learning entrepreneurial skills at an early age. In quick succession, Thanksgiving in November, with its own memorable festive decorations and a sumptuous meal to be consumed with family members. A wise person decided that we should have Thursday and Friday off from school. Then we were off to the races preparing for Christmas. There were the Christmas classics as far as TV shows, movies, and music to be enjoyed throughout the season. Then there was the anticipation of trekking to at least a dozen different stores in the cold to purchase presents. In my home town, we had a shopping plaza that consisted of about 20 stores joined together in a rectangle. The store entrances all faced the inside of the rectangle. So, you were outside going from store to store. Ah, those were the good old days.
Today, how things have changed. We have Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, which signals the season's commercial onslaught. Some businesses have already advertised "early" Black Friday pre-sales. Then there is the whole online shopping experience. You need never to leave the comfort of home and hearth to accomplish all of your shopping needs within less than an hour, depending on the retail outlet. You can even forego the pleasure of individually wrapping gifts and have them commercially wrapped
and shipped as part of your buying experience-for a minimal charge, of course. And if in doubt about the perfect gift to give, you can always default to the ever-popular gift card. I can still deal with that. But when radio stations start playing non-stop Christmas music before Thanksgiving, I have to draw the line. This may warrant a constitutional amendment to preserve our national heritage of everything in its proper time. We risk our national identity if we confuse our time-honored traditions. What are we teaching our children and their children?
But here we are on Thanksgiving Day 2020, and what are our current seasonal thoughts? Actually, we can say we have much to be thankful for. True, this has undoubtedly been one of the most challenging years we have experienced. Yet through all of the challenges and changes, we can still pause to be thankful for what we do have. Let's take a moments' rest and look around to see what we do have. We have family and friends. We have a community that comes together to help one another. We also have the faith that assures us we are never alone, and that is something to be shared with those whose hope is wavering in the face of so many stressors. Ever the optimist, I firmly believe that the glass is more than half full and should be shared with thanksgiving. If we can share with others, what a great opportunity. If you have needs for yourself or your family, what an excellent opportunity to let someone know. It is hard to admit we need help from others, but during this season of thanksgiving, please remember the true meaning of this season is to share what we have, so all will have what they need. I fully admit that if you have a fruitcake that needs a home – I’m your person. On the other hand, if you have Lutefisk to share, I will defer to those more in need than I.
Our encouragement verse for this week is:
1 Chronicles 16:34 (NIV)
“Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever.”
May you be blessed by God’s word. Chris