November is here, and with it comes an interesting conversation of thanksgiving and Christmas and how we celebrate. My husband is a Thanksgiving purist. I am a lover of both and a little bit Christmas crazy. My husband sees the world as black and white with a little grey thrown in occasionally, first Thanksgiving, then Christmas. Nice and logical. I, on the other hand, see all the colors of the rainbow with sparkle and all the chaos that goes with it.
I would have Christmas up all year if I could get away with it. (And someday, when I am memory challenged, that’s the way I’ll perpetually live. I have already prepared my family for this possibility.) But for now, I patiently wait for November and decorate most of the house for Christmas as it rolls around. To satisfy the integrity of Thanksgiving for Chad I don’t decorate the kitchen or dining room until after the thanksgiving meal.
I appreciate the obedience of giving thanks for the generous blessings God gives us through His grace. And I adore the joy and hope that the Christmas season brings as we celebrate a tiny baby that will save the world through grace. I see Thanksgiving and Christmas as perfect bookends with a lot of the same components.
I have been trying to sell the idea of blending these two happy holidays for years. Who doesn’t want to have two months of thanksgiving and joy? Afterall, both holidays share the same elements; giving thanks brings us joy and we are thankful for a baby that came to earth so that we can spend eternity in heaven with God, which also gives us joy. Thanksgiving, grace and joy, they are all connected.
"In everything be giving thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus toward you." 1 Thessalonians 5:18 (Literal Translation StudyLight.org)
The original language for “be giving thanks” is eucharisteo. The Greek root word charis meaning grace, and the derivative chara which is Greek for joy. (The Urban Dictionary and Key Word Study Bible)
I love how this brings thanksgiving, grace and joy together in such a beautiful way. If we give thanks in all things, then grace is also available to us in all things, and that’s where we find joy in all those things.
Ann Voskamp illustrates this concept so beautifully in her book “one thousand gifts”:
Jesus took the loaves and gave thanks, and distributed to those who were seated as much as they wanted. John 6:11
Gave thanks. I’d never considered those two words, the bridge words there in the middle, crossing over that took the not enough and made it enough.
Jesus embraces His not enough. . . He gives thanks. . .And there is more than enough!
Eucharisteo always, always precedes the miracle.
The real problem of life is never a lack of time.
The real problem of life – in my life – is lack of thanksgiving.
I can tell you that when I found myself on my knees begging for God to take the darkness of depression away from me, honestly, I was not thankful, let alone joyful. And I certainly didn’t feel His grace. I said the words of praise and thanksgiving, but didn’t really believe them.
Times like this are where practicing eucharisteo becomes so important. Finding something to be thankful for every day is like stretching our gratitude muscle, preparing us for those days that are more challenging.
What are you giving thanks for today? It can be as simple as feeling the warmth of the sun on your face or sparkling snow in the night. It can also be the miracle of a new baby or finding a lost dog on a snowy night. There is so much to give thanks for, if we just look for it.
Now that I think about it, maybe two months of thanksgiving, grace and joy aren’t even enough. Perhaps eucharisteo is something we should look for and celebrate 12 months each year. And if enjoying Christmas decorations on a snowy November night as you start celebrating the world’s greatest miracle early is one of the things you give thanks for, who am I to judge?