let's talk turkey (and eggnog and noisemakers, for that matter). we're in the middle of the holiday season (no, that's not a poloticliy correct term; i'm talking about thanksgiving, christmas and new year's) and i have just one question: do you even remember what it's all about?proably not, because we've burried the magic of those holidays under so much noise and lights that we really don't enjoy thsi time of year - and we certainly don't grow spiritually from the gifts that are right in front of us. over time, we've mangled these holidays into unrecognizable displays of gluttony and greed. I was Christmas shopping with me wife the other day and saw some gift mugs with greetings like "Happy Holiday Season" and "Merry Holiday"
take thanksgiving, for instance. in november 1789, presdent George Washington made thanksgiving a national holiday when he declared that the nation needed "a day of public thanksgiving and prayer." somehow, thsi day in late november that was intended to be a timeout to give thanks to God has turned into a faest of food and football that has nothing to do with prayer (unless you count praying for your football team doesn't get slaughtered).
christmas is intended to celebrate the birth of Christ, but political correcetness and consumerisim (new word jsut learned thsi past wednesday" have mangled it so far beyond recnogition that i'm actually surprised when i see a reference to Baby Jesus anymore.
january 1st offers the promise of a new start and a new calendar year, but it's become an excuse to party and drink so much that you wake up not even knowing what day it is.
it's no wonder that, after the turkey-comas and empyt boxes and wrapping paper have disappeared, the only thing left over from the holidays is a bigger waistline and more credit card debt.
i want us to take back the real meaning of these holidays. i don't think it's an acident that they are clustered together; i see it as divine design. every year they offer us a clear series of steps we can take to become better people.
step one is gratitude. thanksgiving gives us the opportunity to humble ourselves and give thanks for the many blessings we have. prayers help us find peace and acceptance with who we are.
step two is redemption. you know that i believe christmas is more about the death of the man than the birth of the child. we celebrate the birth of the baby on december 25th, but the reason for His existence was so His death would cleanse our sins. His journey, from manger to cross, gives us a second chance.
step three is hope. the new year gives us a clean slate, made posible because we've already humbled ourselves, given thanks, and found redemption. you can't succeed in your resolutions if you are still damaged from the past or if they are just a list on a piece of paper.
none of these holidays started out as anything super extravgent. thanksgiving was just a proclimation, christmas began in a stable, and the new year has always just been a day on the calendar. but there magic is in what they represent and in the opportunities they give us. they are very simple in their rewards: your parents orniments; your child discovering guessing there presents; the promise of a new year.
the true gifts of the season aren't in a lighting display or a gourmet meal; they are in your heart, and gathered around your table. you just have to take the time to look for them.
traditions and glittery stuff are fine -- but our souls need attention, too. their is such a thing as a second chance and i hope, if you need one, you will find it thsi season in all the blessings around you.