Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday.
As a pastor, I feel a little guilty about this. A part of me feels I am supposed to favor the religious holidays, like Christmas. Truth is, I hate Christmas. I do not hate the quiet miracle of Jesus coming into the world. This, of course, is beautiful. But I hate the celebration of consumerism that Christmas has become. Then again, Natalie thinks I am a scrooge.
But not when it comes to Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving seems to be the only holiday I know that has not been hijacked by mascots. It is the only holiday I know that seems to retain its original substance… giving thanks. And this, of course, is at the heart of Christian spirituality.
This time of year my Facebook feed is filled with people listing things they are thankful for. I am not sure why, but this is yet to annoy me. In a world filled with complaint, gossip, and meaningless chatter, these snippets of thanks are surprisingly refreshing.
But there is one essential thing missing.
Thanksgiving (like faith) requires an object.
It is nice enough to be thankful “for” something. But giving thanks is not just about the “for”, it is about the “to”.
My parents gave my wife and I some money to help pay for our wedding. I was thankful “for” the money. But I was thankful “to” them. Could you imagine being thankful for the money, but never giving thanks to my parents? Yet, this is how so many of us approach Thanksgiving. We have been given so much. But we have forgotten by Whom.
If we are just thankful “for” stuff this Thanksgiving, we will miss the heart of giving thanks. The best part of giving thanks is not the “for”, it is the “to”.