Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas all have one thing in common. It is a retail event for all three of these moments on our yearly calendars. Some stores actually have Christmas items on the shelves by Halloween. When I was growing up, Thanksgiving was all about pilgrims and Indians. My childhood memories are about the story of Plymouth Rock, the Mayflower and about how those searching for the new world met those who were already in this land we know as America. Today I believe the number one symbol of Thanksgiving is the turkey. You don’t see any retail stores advertising anything about the history of Thanksgiving but you might see some Indian corn if you visit a farmers market. The meanings of the various holidays we celebrate in our nation seem to be slipping away and Christmas, too is losing its meaning with each new emphasis on sales and retail promotions.
If you want to have a new perspective on our American holidays go to another country that doesn’t celebrate our Thanksgiving. In Haiti, for example, the only people who even know about Thanksgiving are America missionaries who are there serving. The cost of a turkey in Haiti ranges between $70-$100 dollars. Meat itself is something special, but in America we have meat everyday sometimes two or three times a day, so we have no connection with the way parts of the rest of the world live daily. If you listen to the political leadership of both parties in Washington, D.C. today there appears to be no acknowledgement of the blessings we have. All American politicians want to do today is blame everyone, anyone else for a mess, point fingers and degrade others with insulting words, instead of working together, offering assistance, being someone that could be described as helpful. We as a nation have lost our sense of where we came from as a people, what made us great in forming this perfect union, and that responsibility we have in citizenship.
In my travels to the country of Brazil one of the things that struck me in an observing way is that everyone in Brazil was Brazilians. Color didn’t matter, and in Brazil there are many combinations of color. I pray for the day in American that all Americans will share in genuine love for our country and see all of our citizens as a part of our great nation. Cooperating, being friendly, and seeing the best in others without focusing on the negative, finding common ground are all still things I believe in. The Bible says that the three greatest things are faith, hope and love and love is the greatest. As a Christian I still believe in these things too even if the rest of the world seems to have other priorities.
Christmas offers not just Americans but the world an opportunity to look into the sky and see the Star of Bethlehem again. During that time there was a massive taxation underway, the world had her problems and the unknown couple — Mary & Joseph — had their own personal problems and issues they were trying to resolve and address. An experience that was very complicated for them to explain to their family and friends, a pregnancy surrounded by questions and not in a positive way either. The first Christmas of faith, hope and love that happened in the City of Bethlehem 2000 years ago is available in the year 2012, too. While the world is in confusion, frustration and disappointment individual peace can still be found.
“Light and life to all He brings, Born that man no more may die, Born to raise the sons of earth, born to give them second birth. ‘Hark!’ the herald angels sing.”
Until then. . .