“We Gather Together…”

For all those folks already decking the halls and cranking up the carols, we DO understand Thanksgiving may not have all the “sparkle-and-shine” of those upcoming December holidays. But, before we embrace the rampant consumerism and non-stop activities, we invite to take just a moment, breathe deeply, and simply appreciate the multitude of blessings in your life.

From our particular vantage point this may be easier for us than it is for most, since we get the opportunity to actually witness God’s goodness and bounty EVERY day! But, among all the preparations for the “Mother of all Feasts,” the possibly-premature glitz of Christmas, the careful coordination of football schedules, the Black Friday strategic planning, and the holiday arrival of friends and relatives, sometimes the “thanks” part of Thanksgiving gets lost or downplayed.

Sure, you probably do say grace over that meal or maybe go around the table to hear what everyone may be thankful for this year. However, let us ask… aside from this particular moment, exactly how much time over that customary four-day weekend do you spend actually cataloging your blessings? Don’t get us wrong – we’re just as guilty as the next person! Let’s be honest; no one is completely immune to the effects of this “holiday hectic-ness.” And, our modern society basically conspires against “Thanksgiving.” Think about it…

Aside from the traditional parades and the food, of course, Thanksgiving doesn’t really have much of a “branded” identity. Once upon a time, we could dress-up as Pilgrims and “Indians” before we became conscious of the untold story, with all its black marks on our cultural history. Buh, bye, Pilgrims and natives! Then, there’s that turkey symbol. We don’t ritualistically sacrifice Santa and his reindeer, Cupid, the Easter Bunny, or Baby New Year as a part of their holidays! Yet, the annual planned demise of our holiday “symbol” somehow just doesn’t say, “Thanks!”

It doesn’t stop with that doomed foul. Consider the musical selections focused on exclusively Thanksgiving. After “Over The River And Through The Woods” the selection becomes pretty slim. Some more modern tunes can be reasonably added, but let’s face it, everyone is just holding on for the EARLIEST socially-acceptable time to start singing “Jingle Bells” and “Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer.” And, this gave us pause… which brought us back to our original “giving thanks” roots – an iconic hymn – “We Gather Together.”

It’s not like “thankfulness” is an alien concept; it was a key part of most upbringings. Between our “elders” teaching us the basics of good manners and the 137 times some version of the word “thank” appears in the Bible, you’d think it would ALWAYS be top-of-mind. Instead, we’re not content to spend a few days simply “giving thanks” and have to manufacture additional “observances.” Like “big” football games… “Black Friday” bargain frenzy… more shopping for “Shop Small (Business) Saturday”… and even spilling over into “Cyber Monday.” And, while we’re good Texans and all about football, a great deal, and supporting our local small businesses, it begs the question: Why are we so uncomfortable just thinking about our many blessings and expressing gratitude for more than a few minutes?”

Could it be too “touchy-feely” for us? Maybe it’s too “religious” for most people’s taste? Possibly this opens old wounds or unlocks long-buried emotions? So, we deflect… with stuffing, sports and shopping.

But, there IS hope! On the coattails of Cyber Monday, we welcome “Giving Tuesday” – a day dedicated to supporting non-profit organizations. And, yes, we will ask you to consider donating to our mission on this day. However, “giving” and “thanks” are things that are always on our minds… especially during the Thanksgiving season, abbreviated as it may be. It is during this time, we relish these opportunities to be reminded of our OWN abundant blessings and share this bounty with those around us!

For us, this is a year-round goal and mission, guided by our Father’s words:

“Enter His gates with thanksgiving And His courts with praise. Give thanks to Him, bless His name.” (Psalm 100:4)

“Praise the LORD. Give thanks to the LORD, for He is good; His love endures forever.” (Psalm 106:1)

“Devote yourselves to prayer. Be alert and thankful when you pray.” (Colossians 4:2)

So we gather together this week, with loved ones, to reflect – hopefully, for MORE than a couple of minutes – on for our blessings, big and small, and strive to preserve our spirit of “thankfulness” all year long. Share with us, on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn, just ONE thing you’re thankful for this Thanksgiving week. And, let’s reclaim the “THANKS” part of this holiday and spread an attitude of gratitude for the entire season!

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