Friday, November 7, 2008

Saving Thanksgiving

This post is written by my lovely daughter, Amanda. I hope you enjoy it.

Here is my solution to our culture's dismissal of Thanksgiving:

Every year, at about this time, I express concern that our most important American holiday is losing significance in our culture. While Halloween celebrations become larger events, and involve more child AND adult activities, the largest Christmas marketing kickoffs have migrated from "Black Friday" to Nov. 1, and earlier. With events such as the Macy's parade being pitched less as Thanksgivnig celebrations, and more as Christmas kickoffs, with an increasing number of families that have decided to "do Christmas on Thanksgiving", and with holiday lights beginning to glow long before our harvest feast, Tom Turkey sits forgotten on the sidelines.

As I try to raise awareness, many have argued, "But isn't the birth of our Lord more important than pilgrims and Indians?" Yes. But need we necessarily sacrifice such a significant day of gratitude and family? A national day of Thanksgiving also invokes the unavoidable issue of WHO it is we offer our gratitude. Also, are we ever commanded, or even encouraged, in Scripture to institute a yearly celebration of our Savior's birthday? Or is it more often emphasized to "In everything give thanks!". I'd argue the holidays hold nearly equal importance.

Though my grassroots campaign (okay, so it's pretty much just me) has little influence over the commercial giants that be, if you find yourself concerned as I am over this recent phenomenon, perhaps you'll join me in steps to preserve Thanksgiving Day.

1. Refrain, as much as possible, from making Christmas related purchases before Thanksgiving Day. If early Christmas marketing campaigns begin to prove less effective, merchandisers will become more inclined to focus their efforts later in the season. If you want to avoid holiday shopping crowds, perhaps shopping on-line through December would be an appropriate alternative.

2. Keep Halloween in perspective. No, I don't think celebrating Halloween will cause Satan to rise up and eat your soul. But, as fun as it is, we must acknowledge it as an almost entirely "Hallmark" or manufactured holiday. What are we teaching our children when we decorate our houses, play nonstop Halloween specials on TV, and shop at those special, seasonal "Halloween Shop"s for nearly a month before Trick-or-Treat day? I can't help but think that, for a child, it sends a message that Halloween is as important, or only second in importance to Christmas. We have to teach our kids that, yes, it's a fun holiday, but that it also holds little or no significance in comparison to Christmas, Easter, Thanksgiving, or even the "minor" holidays, such as Memorial Day or St. Valentine's Day.

3. Make Thanksgiving related purchases. As critical as we are of it, the commercialization of a holiday plays a great role in its perceived significance in our culture. We should really thank God that Christmas and Easter are so well commercialized. Its how these distinctly Christian holidays have maintained such prominence in even our very secular culture. Why not spend a little cash on those pretty harvest dishes for your Thanksgiving table? Perhaps, if you're not as gifted in the culinary arts, you could, order your Thanksgiving turkey from Honey Baked Ham or Boston Market. Target has a really cute set of Thanksgiving themed bath towels for sale right now. (Ridiculous, I know, but if your financially blessed, why not help the cause and have a cutesy seasonal bathroom.) Hallmark has a gorgeous assortment of Thanksgiving cards. Do you know someone faraway or overseas that would find encouragement from such a small token? What would it hurt to find a harvest wreath for your door that says, "Happy Thanksgiving!" If you have the dollars, why not vote with them?

4. I've seen an increasing number of families choosing to celebrate Christmas on Thanksgiving as a way to ensure that all members can attend. Let me suggest this, if you can't celebrate Christmas on Christmas, maybe New Years would be a more appropriate holiday to sacrifice. My own family in Illinois will be holding their Christmas celebration on January 3 this year. If we don't begin our Christmas holiday before Thanksgiving, extending it an extra week won't seem nearly as much a hardship.

5. Find those things that can make Thanksgiving magical for children. What customs can we adapt in our own families to delight future generations with warm memories and traditions to pass on? Maybe your little girl could get a new dress to wear Thanksgiving day. Perhaps special games can be reserved and played only on the holiday. What kid-centric treats can we offer every year at our table? I don't have kids yet, so I'm sure there are dozens of possibilities I haven't even thought to explore in this area. What other ways can we ensure Thanksgiving's prominence in future generations?

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Something to Think About

This letter was emailed to me with the claim that it had been written by David Letterman. After doing some research on the net, I found that it had also been attributed to Jay Leno, but was in fact written by Craig Smith. No matter who the original author is, I found it to be very thought provoking. Perhaps you will agree.

'As most of you know I am not a President Bush fan, nor have I ever been, but this is not about Bush, it is about us, as Americans, and it seems to hit the mark.'
'The other day I was reading Newsweek magazine and came across some Poll data I found rather hard to believe. It must be true given the source, right? The Newsweek poll alleges that 67 percent of Americans are unhappy with the direction the country is headed and 69 percent of the country is unhappy with the performance of the President. In essence 2/3 of the citizenry just ain't happy and want a change. So being the knuckle dragger I am, I started thinking, 'What are we so unhappy about?''
A.. Is it that we have electricity and running water 24 hours a day, 7 Days a week?
B.. Is our unhappiness the result of having air conditioning in the summer and heating in the winter?
C.. Could it be that 95.4 percent of these unhappy folks have a job?
D.. Maybe it is the ability to walk into a grocery store at any time and see more food in moments than Darfur has seen in the last year?
E.. Maybe it is the ability to drive our cars and trucks from the Pacific Ocean to the Atlantic Ocean without having to present identification papers as we move through each state?
F.. Or possibly the hundreds of clean and safe motels we would find along the way that can provide temporary shelter?
G.. I guess having thousands of restaurants with varying cuisine from around the world is just not good enough either.
H. Or could it be that when we wreck our car, emergency workers show up and provide services to help all and even send a helicopter to take you to the hospital.
I.. Perhaps you are one of the 70 percent of Americans who own a home.
J.. You may be upset with knowing that in the unfortunate case of a fire, a group of trained firefighters will appear in moments and use top notch equipment to extinguish the flames, thus saving you, your family, and your belongings.
K.. Or if, while at home watching one of your many flat screen TVs, a burglar or prowler intrudes, an officer equipped with a gun and a bullet-proof vest will come to defend you and your family against attack or loss.

L.. This all in the backdrop of a neighborhood free of bombs or militias raping and pillaging the residents. Neighborhoods where 90% of teenagers own cell phones and computers.
M.. How about the complete religious, social and political freedoms we enjoy that are the envy of everyone in the world? Maybe that is what has 67% of you folks unhappy.

Fact is, we are the largest group of ungrateful, spoiled brats the world has ever seen. No wonder the world loves the U.S. , yet has a great disdain for its citizens. They see us for what we are. The most blessed people in the world who do nothing but complain about what we don't have, and what we hate about the country instead of thanking the good Lord we live here.

I know, I know. What about the president who took us into war and has no plan to get us out? The president who has a measly 31 percent approval rating? Is this the same president who guided the nation in the dark days after 9/11? The president that cut taxes to bring an economy out of recession? Could this be the same guy who has been called every name in the book for succeeding in keeping all the spoiled ungrateful brats safe from terrorist attacks? The commander in chief of an all volunteer army that is out there defending you and me?

Did you hear how bad the President is on the news or talk show? Did this news affect you so much, make you so unhappy you couldn't take a look around for yourself and see all the good things and be glad? Think about it......are you upset at the President because he actually caused you personal pain OR is it because the 'Media' told you he was failing to kiss your sorry ungrateful behind every day?

Make no mistake abut it. The troops in Iraq and Afghanistan have volunteered to serve, and in many cases may have died for your freedom. There is currently no draft in this country. They didn't have to go. They are able to refuse to go and end up with either a ''general'' discharge, an 'other than honorable'' discharge or, worst case scenario, a''dishonorable' ' discharge after a few days in the brig.

So why then the flat-out discontentment in the minds of 69 percent of Americans? Say what you want but I blame it on the media. If it bleeds it leads and they specialize in bad news. Everybody will watch a car crash with blood and guts. How many will watch kids selling lemonade at the corner? The media knows this and media outlets are for-profit corporations. They offer what sells, and when criticized, try to defend their actions by 'justifying' them in one way or another. Just ask why they tried to allow a murderer like O.J. Simpson to write a book about how he didn't kill his wife, but if he did he would have done it this way......Insane!

Turn off the TV, burn Newsweek, and use the New York Times for the bottom of your bird cage. Then start being grateful for all we have as a country. There is exponentially more good than bad. We are among the most blessed people on Earth and should thank God several times a day, or at least be thankful and appreciative.' 'With hurricanes, tornadoes, fires out of control, mud slides, flooding, severe thunderstorms tearing up the country from one end to another, and with the threat of bird flu and terrorist attacks, are we sure this is a good time to take God out of the Pledge of Allegiance?'

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

The Votes Are In.....

...and Barack Obama is the peoples choice for president of the United States. While I personally favored John McCain for various reasons, I will honor Mr. Obama and pray for him. May God be with him as he leads this great nation.