I’m not the “seasonal purist” that I used to be. It wasn’t so long ago that I couldn’t stand to hear the Christmas music much before December. This year I have been playing it since the 1st of November on our car’s radio.
I’ve started pulling out Christmas tree boxes and decorations so we can begin the annual festival of remembering this coming weekend.
Every ornament has its story.
We have them from every place we have ever traveled.
From our first Christmases.
From the boys’ first Christmases. Those ugly Popsicle ones that they made in school umpteen years ago.
From my first Christmases as a child .
From my wife’s first Christmases as a child.
It takes us a week or 2 to put them all on the tree because of side trips down memory lane. So I wanted to start earlier this year.
This morning I went through Christmas cards I have saved over the past 10 to 30 years. I mostly save the photo ones, but sometimes there are other ones that have notes. It’s making for a wonderful Thanksgiving week as well.
My Thanksgiving is for the people whose lives have left their fingerprints and footprints all over my life. My great aunt used to spend Thanksgiving Day with us and I would help her with her Christmas card list because she couldn’t see well enough to address them. I hated it. I loved it.
My Thanksgiving for seeing the young adults whose growth has been documented from childhood to marriage in those photo Christmas cards and that one Christmas star ornament from a child I baptized when he was but four and is now a medical technician in Tennessee.
My Thanksgiving for all the blessings that have been poured into my life, which sometimes were not appreciated as much as they should have been, but are now worth more than any gift the Magi could bring. The gift of a special woman who for more than 38 years has loved and cherished me in ways that only can be described by the word grace.
My Thanksgiving for new blessings in my life which I had not seen coming. The continuing love of and for my two grown sons who continue to amaze me each and every day despite my feeble efforts of trying be to a good father and a good pastor at the same time. For my friends in this town who keep me in line and keep my head screwed on straight. For that matter, friends far and wide, even those on Facebook.
My Thanksgiving for those churches and congregations and district superintendents and Bishops of my denomination that have taught me by word and deed what it means to serve the Lord Jesus Christ. And for colleagues of other Christian branches who have demonstrated that love is stronger than differences.
I used to preach every week, as though I had some idea of what it all means. Now I am retired and humbled enough to realize that so much of it is mystery beyond explanation and certainly beyond vain attempts to purify.
I am giving thanks and living Thanksgiving, this year awaiting with expectancy for the Advent of blessings galore in the midst of it all. After all, ‘tis the season.