Wednesday, November 27, 2013


In approximately 24 hours, the smells of Thanksgiving will begin to overwhelm our senses - the roasting turkey and apple pies will tempt our noses and tongues, the mashed potatoes, gravy and stuffing will cause our mouths to water as our fingers itch to pick up our utensils, and our stomachs will grumble with the anticipation of the food coma that begins soon after the feast ends.  When we think about Thanksgiving - this is what comes to mind: turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce and all the other fixin's.

24 hours of giving thanks for a delicious feast, football, family and friends.

Then the frenzy begins with Black Friday, Shop Small Saturday and Cyber Monday and our prayers of thanks become diminished to the amount we saved with the best sale of the week. 

Over the past month, a number of people have undertaken what was often referred to as 30 days of Thanksgiving.  Each day they would name something that they are thankful for, expanding our one day of Thanksgiving into an entire month.  It was an exercise of mind-fullness, intentional reflection on the blessings of each day.

Thanksgiving is about more than pilgrims and dare I even say, turkey. 

"As President of the United States, George Washington proclaimed the first nation-wide thanksgiving celebration in America marking November 26, 1789, "as a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favours of Almighty God".[17] 

Our gratefulness as people of God is more than one day or moment in the year.  We are called to a life of thankfulness, of being intentional in recognizing God's presence in our lives. - even and especially in the midst of the difficult days.

What would you lift up to God as your prayer of thanksgiving for this day?  For yesterday?  For tomorrow?  For 75 days from now?   How might you be intentional in giving thanks daily?

I share with you the following from the Interfaith Thanksgiving Service that was held last night in our community at Temple Beth Elohim as the words of thankfulness that were shared by that gathered community:

For the expanding grandeur of creation
Words known and unknown,
galaxies beyond galaxies,
filling us with awe and challenging our imaginations
                                         We give thanks to You (Modim Anachnu Lach)
for this fragile planet earth, its wonders and surprises,
its hopes and achievements,
                                       We give thanks to You (Modim Anachnu Lach)
for the joy of human life, its wonders and surprises,
its hopes and achievements,
                                      We give thanks to You (Modim Anachnu Lach)
for human continuity, our common past and future hope,
our oneness transcending all separation. our capacity for work,
for peace and justice in the midst of hostility and oppression,
                                   We give thanks to You (Modim Anachnu Lach)                   
for high hopes and noble causes, for faith without fanaticism,
for understanding of views not shared,
                                   We give thanks to You (Modim Anachnu Lach)
for all who have labored and suffered for a fairer world,
who have lived so that others might live in dignity and freedom,
                                   We give thanks to You (Modim Anachnu Lach)
for human liberties and sacred rites,
for opportunities to change and grow, to affirm and choose
                                   We give thanks to You (Modim Anachnu Lach)
we pray that we may live not by our fears but by our hopes
not by our words but by our deeds.
                                  We give thanks to You (Modim Anachnu Lach)

p.s.  the same could be said for compassion as many acts of charity are undertaken during the holidays but are "forgotten" once life gets back to "normal".  Check out my colleague, Steve Biegner's Facebook page that seeks to institute 31 days of compassion beginning in January.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

"Annoyed" by the holidays?

How can someone be annoyed by the holidays?

Yet, here is sit but three weeks before the "official"(?) beginning of the holiday season and I'm already frustrated.  No, not because I haven't started my Christmas shopping yet or haven't even decided where we are going for Thanksgiving or that I will once again have to deal with a certain amount of "guilt" for not sending out Christmas cards to all those wonderful people who send some to us.

I am annoyed because of the increasingly commercialization of the whole holiday season!  It only seems to get worse every year.  I think I need to start to keep  track of when I see the first Christmas decorations up in the stores which seem to arrive in early October nowadays, but then it would only increase my own frustration.

This year, however, my frustration has hit a new high in that a number of large retail stores have decided to move their black Friday sales into Thursday, on Thanksgiving day itself.  While on the one hand, it really doesn't affect me as I don't get all hyped up by even the Friday frenzy, I soon realized that it does affect a great number of people.  Think of all those employees who are now pulled from their dinner tables to work. 

What does this say about our country's values which reveal themselves to be more about the dollar than the family?
What does this say about the true meaning of these holy-days: from the giving of thanks to the giving of a Child?

My initial response to this new low in the commercialization of the holidays is to shrug my shoulders, thinking that it is out of my control to do anything.  Besides, once again, I don't do all that much shopping anyway. 

Yet, can I really sit by and do nothing?  Sure, in the greater scheme of things - this isn't a huge deal.  But, change is not even possible if no one does anything about it.  So, rather than just staying annoyed by the whole thing,  I have started a petition on (look for Major Retail Stores; Remain closed on Thanksgiving Day).

What do you think?  Will you sign my petition?  Will you refrain from shopping on Thanksgiving?