Wednesday, November 26, 2014

A Toast to Thanksgiving

Every year, it seems that the Christmas season starts earlier. As if it’s not enough that all the stores and television commercials center around Christmas as soon as Halloween is over, now radio stations are playing Christmas carols as early as the first week of November! I’m all for everything that embodies the Christmas season, but when it starts so early it seems as though Thanksgiving simply gets skipped over.

I have always loved Thanksgiving. Even as a kid I would get a heartwarming feeling of happiness and gratitude when we celebrated the holiday together with family over a huge feast. Sure, I was excited for the Christmas season too, but I always wanted to appreciate Thanksgiving for what it was before I really got into the Christmas mindset.

Sadly, today that is harder to do. There is much more responsibility for me during the holidays now as an adult and parent than there was when I was a kid. The commercialism of Christmas which starts in early November stresses me out. I have to figure out the kids’ Christmas lists not just for my husband and myself, but for extended family as well. Then I have to think about how I can save the most amount of money on Christmas shopping: Should I shop in store or online? Should I wait for Black Friday or purchase things earlier before everything is picked over? Should I wait for Cyber Monday? Or maybe mid-December will have the best deals. All of this anxiety causes me to forget about what’s in the present, the season of being thankful.

This year, I decided that I will not partake in the Black Friday shopping frenzy, nor will I check the online deals on the evening of Thanksgiving. I decided that I want to use that time instead to really be with my family. I want to play games and watch movies with my kids. I want to share Thanksgiving dinner with friends without a time-limit for when I need to start online shopping. I want to enjoy decorating for Christmas with the family on Friday while drinking hot cocoa and listening, finally, to Christmas Carols. I want to remember Thanksgiving as the perfect foundation for the Christmas season: gratitude and appreciation for all we have.
So here’s to Thanksgiving, a reminder of all my blessings:  family and friends, good health, food, water, and shelter, military life (which is very easy to NOT feel thankful for!), my kids’ school and teachers, the strangers who lend a helping hand, the doors which have opened for me and the doors which have closed behind me, the lessons I’ve learned, the people I’ve met, our beautiful country and the heroes who defend it, God’s unfailing promise, and the love that surrounds all of these.

This Thursday, take a moment to raise your glass, give a toast to Thanksgiving, and think about all you are thankful for. See for yourself how your heart fills with joy. Then, you are truly ready for the Christmas season. Happy Thanksgiving!

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