First Days of Jesus' Life Explored

Editor’s Note: After the Thanksgiving holiday, Christmas rushes in. But, the season of thankfulness should keep going and intensify. As the celebration of Jesus’ arrival nears, thankfulness should grow. I resisted placing this guest editorial in an edition where some might dismiss it as “expected holiday fare.” So, I held it back until after the Thanksgiving holiday. Thanksgiving during Christmastime should not be unusual. It should be customary. Thanksgiving is more than a holiday. May the one day of Thanksgiving become day after day after day of thankfulness.

Thanksgiving dinners and Christmas dinners have always been important to my family. I remember, as a small child, having those dinners at my grandmother’s house in Louisiana with our extended family. This tradition continued as I grew older.

When my family moved to New Mexico, our immediate family was all we had, but we began including other people at those dinners. That included Muslim exchange workers from Tunisia at Christmas, missionaries from Tajique, and other local families.

That tradition later included family friends that could not go home due to bus driver strikes, bad weather, or just being alone. My brothers and I liked turkey even though both of our parents did not care for it. So, we were always glad to have company; it meant we could have turkey instead of ham.

Our “dinners” always have been held at lunch time and our family extends our “dinner” to include football games, dessert in the middle of the afternoon, and other activities during the day. That had also been a memorable time of thanks especially when there was something for which we were really grateful to God.

One year, I was not surprised when my mother told me we would be having Wyn and Denis, a couple who were their friends from England, for Thanksgiving dinner. She said we would have to have the dinner on Tuesday night because they would be leaving on Wednesday. This, too, was not unusual because we had Thanksgiving dinner one year on Friday because my brother would not be in town on Thursday. Wyn and Denis were later able to change their travel arrangements so we could have our traditional Thanksgiving dinner on Thursday at lunchtime.

Wyn was helping my mother and I to carry the food to the large decorated table in the next room when she stopped me in the kitchen. We were both carrying food at the moment. She asked, “What’s Thanksgiving?”

That question stopped me dead in my tracks. I stood in the kitchen holding food and stared at her. Thanksgiving had always been something that we all grew up with. We made turkeys and pumpkins in the preschool at church, Pilgrim hats at school, and were taught about the Pilgrims and Indians from the time we were small. My children made Thankful boxes and we found other ways to emphasize being thankful. I do not remember having to explain about Thanksgiving to my children because it was something we all “just sort of grew up with.”

I have been told that some sort of thanksgiving is celebrated in other parts of the world. But, I realized that it is not celebrated in England the way it is in America.

It took me a couple of minutes to put my thoughts together. Then, I told Wyn about the Pilgrims coming to America, having a difficult winter, and that they would not have survived if it had not been for the Indians help. I explained how the Pilgrims recognized the importance of the Indians assistance, and that prompted them to prepare a large dinner as part of their thanks to the Indians. I explained that America has continued that tradition as a special day of thanks to God.

I have thought of Wyn’s question many times. It brings to mind times when my family has thanked God for His really important gifts. My brother thanked God for another year when he was diagnosed with cancer. My mother lived another year after almost dying from Leukemia.

Thankfulness has become especially important after the COVID’s “invasion” caused so many traditions to be altered or omitted. Although we had small gatherings instead of big events and did not pass the food as we had in the past, we still continued to thank God for our special blessings and appreciate having a day dedicated to thanking God.


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