Thanksgiving carries a lot or meaning for me. In my home growing up, it was the day we busted out the Christmas decorations. It was the first day Christmas music could be played in our house, and we put up the tree and hung the lights. My dad would get out his Dickens Village, his trains, and our house was transformed every year from 8:00 a.m. – noon Thanksgiving Day. My dad thought the best way to celebrate Thanksgiving was by beginning our preparation for Christmas.
It also meant the agony of watching another Lions loss on national TV. We would quickly follow that by eating away our pain with the traditional turkey and fixings feast — affectionately called “therapeutic eating.” The afternoon would wrap up with a nap. Not much has changed over the years for me. As a matter of fact, nothing has, including the Lions and the nap.
Along the way, though, new traditions have come; shopping at 3:00 a.m. for Black Friday sales, the Ohio State/Michigan game, and transitioning from alternating holidays with our kids and my parents to my kids and their children alternating with us.
For us around here, it means a break. This break reminds us to reflect on what we are thankful for. We have a lot to be thankful for, but today my thoughts have gone to a place in the world currently ravaged by missiles. It is a place where no one celebrates Thanksgiving, and very few celebrate Christmas. They aren’t getting a “break” this week. As a matter of fact, they might be thrown headlong into war. It is a confusing time for them, and a challenging time for us to think about. What is it that makes us thankful during times such as these?
I want to say our thankfulness is shaped by the first verse in Chapter 11 of Hebrews, and the four-letter word contained therein; that word is “hope.” “Hope” is a word we will hear a lot between Thanksgiving and Christmas. It will come at us as we walk through Advent, anticipating the coming of the Christ, “hoping” for a better day. We long for things that can’t be seen, as Scripture says, with conviction. We’ve never known a world without war, disaster, hunger, pain, and death, but we long for the day when all that will end. We know that what is happening in parts of our world isn’t the last word, because we have hope.
Hope. For us who live in the West, hope is easier to think about than it is for others who sit in refugee camps and bomb shelters. Though this may be the current reality for many, we long for things that have yet to be seen. So this week as we reflect on all we have to be thankful for, hang the decorations, put up the lights, watch another meaningless Lions game, shop while listening to Michael Buble, let’s also remember those for whom no music is playing, no decorations are going up, no game is being watched (there is mercy somewhere), and no turkey is being eaten. Let us remember those for whom hope seems a long way off.
Text for the week: Hebrews 11:1