Summary: Without Thanksgiving we can’t experience Christmas

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The preacher came over to visit unexpectedly. (Aren’t you glad your preacher doesn’t do that?) Wanting to make a good impression, the lady of the house instructed her little daughter, “Please run and get that good book we all love so much and bring it here.” The daughter tottered off and then returned in a minute with triumph on her face and the J.C. Penney catalogue in her hands!

The biggest Thanksgiving killer, is the day after when Christmas shopping begins in earnest and we stop thinking about what we have and start thinking about what we want. Many of us like to flip through the pages of the Christmas catalogue looking at all the neat stuff we want when we ought to be doing spending more time looking at the neat stuff we already have.

Our problem is that we have allowed Christmas to kill Thanksgiving. Have you noticed? In the stores we went right from Halloween to Christmas. In fact, in many stores Halloween and Christmas were up together in September. How many Thanksgiving Specials have you seen on TV? I believe tonight is the first and only thanksgiving special. Have you tried to buy any thanksgiving decorations? They don’t exist! I take that back I was able to find those little pilgrim salt and pepper shakers at Publix you know the ones from their commercial. However, I am not so sure that is about Thanksgiving as much as it is about selling their store.

The hustle and bustle of the secularization of Christmas has encroached upon the sanctity of Thanksgiving. Christmas is not a time of peace and joy but of chaos and frantic futility. Now I know what you must be thinking – were is she going with this – Christmas is a celebration of Christ’s birth – as a preacher surely she wants us to celebrate Christmas. I am not suggesting that we don’t have Christmas what I am suggesting is that we cannot truly experience the real spirit of Christmas without first celebrating Thanksgiving.

If you had been a Pilgrim, would you have given thanks? Consider what they had been through, the men and women who broke bread together on that first Thanksgiving in 1621.

They had uprooted themselves and sailed for America, an endeavor so hazardous that published guides advised travelers to the New World, “First, make thy will.” The crossing was very rough and the Mayflower was blowing off course. Instead of reaching Virginia where Englishmen and settled 13 years earlier, the Pilgrims ended up in the wilds of Massachusetts. By the time they found a place to make their new home, Plymouth, they called it – winter had set in.

The storms were frightful. Shelter was rudimentary. There was little food. Within weeks, nearly all the settlers were sick. “That which was most sad and lamentable,” Governor William Bradford later recalled, “was that in two or three months’ time, half of their company died, especially in January and February, being the depth of winter, and wanting houses and other comforts; being infected with scurvy and other diseases…There died sometimes two or three of them a day.”

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