Which came first?
The chicken or the egg?
The phoenix or the flame? (any HP friends of mine get that reference?)
Thanksgiving or Christmas?
I can’t help but chuckle at the very opinionated posts I am seeing all over social media these days. You know the ones …
“Why is Target playing Christmas music!?! It’s only November!”
“People, there is a holiday between now and Christmas!”
“I don’t care what you think, my tree is going up tonight!”
“I’ve been listening to Christmas music since November 1st.”
Oh I could go on and on. And I will just assume since you are reading this, that you care what I think about all of this. (Okay, maybe I am giving myself too much credit and your browser is simply frozen.) But I will continue.
Thanksgiving OR Christmas?
Well, it’s easy … why not both!? (*insert a select audience cringing here*) Let me explain …
Okay, so way back in 1789, Thanksgiving was declared a day of “public thanksgiving and prayer”. Sure, now a days we throw in yummy things like turkey and mashed potatoes and jellied cranberry sauce, but the point of Thanksgiving is focused on prayer and gratitude. Duh. Not sharing anything new here.
Christmas on the other hand is a time to celebrate God’s great love for us – celebrating the birth of Christ and the fact that because of that, we all have the chance to live with renewed strength and joy knowing God has conquered all. (Okay, the ending of that sentence fast forwarded to Easter, but the birth was the start of such a beautiful love story for us.)
So when people get all up in arms about keeping these two separate, I don’t get it. First of all gratitude is something we need to have ALL year round, not just during November or on Thanksgiving. One of my favorite verse in the Bible is Philippians 4:6-7: “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all He has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.”
Did you catch that? Every prayer we pray should have gratitude included. Thank Him for all that He has done. So the spirit of Thanksgiving truly is one that we should have all year round.
Those of you who are Facebook friends with me know I have a Thankful album where I upload a photo each day of something I am thankful for. Hi, I am Chelsea and yes, I am guilty of flooding newsfeeds daily for almost 2 years now. But the reason for it all stems from this verse. Life is tough. It actually can suck sometimes. We are surrounded by things we don’t understand. Physical pain. Death. Divorce. Lost limbs and broken friendships. Miscarriages. Flippant words said to us from those we care about. Spilt milk. (Seemed appropriate, no?) When our hearts focus solely on what hurts, it sure is easy to dwell on the sadness of this broken world. (Trust me, uploading a “thankful” picture on a day when I just found out I am miscarrying, or after a call telling me my pregnancy isn’t viable, or I need surgery … well, it isn’t easy. But it makes me think about my blessings and it helps.)
But….when we flip the way we view things and see things through the eyes of gratitude, it becomes more bearable. It really does.
I read this powerful paragraph a few weeks ago and it has stuck with me: “Gratitude is important because it has the power to change our attitude. When we are willing to give thanks to God in all things, not just some things – to consciously thank Him even when we don’t feel very grateful – something in us begins to shift. We begin to see life as Christ sees it – full of opportunities rather than obstacles.”
It continues to say “If we aren’t grateful for what God has done in the past and in the present, we won’t have the faith to believe God for things in the future.”
I think about times when I have gifted someone something or extended kindness over and over again to never be thanked. Not that I do anything for a thank you, but my human mind goes “Really!?! Not even a text?!” It means something in this world to acknowledge someone’s kindness. It’s a good thing God doesn’t have the same kind of reaction as I do at times because He would be like “REALLY PEOPLE!!?!? I GAVE YOU BREATH THIS MORNING! YOU WOKE UP! IN A HOUSE! WITH FOOD! AND THE ABILITY TO SPEAK. AND YOU ARE NEVER GOING TO THANK ME FOR THIS!?!?”
Yikes. I just made an awkwardly convicted face at the coffee shop just writing that. Because there is SO much I don’t thank God for that I have.
Where am I going with all this? Oh yes …. Celebrating Christmas before Thanksgiving.
I think that if you have the heart of gratitude firmly rooted in your heart, its perfectly fine to set up your tree or listen to Madonna sing Santa Baby before the turkey has been served. Because gratitude is not about the day. It’s about the spirit.
And for some people, the holidays can be really hard. It may remind them of someone who won’t be at their Thanksgiving table this year. Or a reminder of the job they still don’t have and presents they still can’t afford. It may bring back painful memories of years past and they may carry sorrow for things they still ache for. And for some, the sight of a Christmas tree sitting in their house on November 14th may just make them smile and act as a reminder of the good memories. Or perhaps seeing the stocking hung by the chimney with care will bring out a spirit of even MORE gratitude as they reflect on how blessed they have to have stockings to hang.
So before we all go around judging one another’s reason for putting up the tree earlier or not listening to Christmas music until after Thanksgiving, let’s all stop and reflect on OURSELVES. Because quite frankly it doesn’t matter. What matters is what is in OUR hearts, not on others radios or in their homes.
Are you gracious – year round? Are you celebrating the joyous reminder that Christ was born a baby, in flesh, and came to save? Maybe just the tune of Jingle Bells or White Christmas makes your heart happy and reflect on your own joy. Whatever it is – let them celebrate. I promise, it will all be all right in the end. Granted, we may be a little tired of hearing “…there wont be snow in Africa this Christmas time …” in a few weeks but big picture, it’s okay. We are blessed. We are saved. Life goes on.
So, in the spirit of the holidays, I am making my very first bucket list. I figure this holiday season I don’t have to worry about things like shots and appointments and that feels very freeing! And I know that there will still be waves of emotion that ebb and flow so its my goal to focus on the good, the new, the laughs and the new memories to be created. So help me in creating my bucket list! Post a comment here, or on the post where you saw the link at (Facebook, Instagram, etc) and let me know something Josh and/or I should do this holiday season. Here is what I have come up with so far:
- Try a Peppermint Mocha from Starbucks (I have never had a hot peppermint anything before!)
- Put together a shoebox for Operation Christmas Child
- Intentionally acknowledge bell ringers outside of stores instead of avoiding eye contact
- Drive around aimlessly for at least 30 minutes looking at holiday lights
- Recruit my sister to reenact a childhood Christmas photo
- Try eggnog
- Watch Elf, Christmas Story, National Lampoons Christmas Vacation and How the Grinch Stole Christmas with Josh
- Go sledding (Its been YEARS)
- Build a snowman. Perhaps a Cali sized one. I’m certain she would adore that.
I am missing a lot! So join in the fun in helping me set up a list, then follow along the next 6 weeks as I work to check things off!
I don’t have too much of a fertility update other than I am meeting with the naturopathic doctor tomorrow to get a game plan. I will be sure to include more on that appointment next time. Thanks for still including us in your prayers as we navigate this totally new road. So far the only change made has been going gluten free and its been going really well over the last few weeks. More changes to come I am sure, but it’s a start!
Now, go spread some cheer and share in the spirit of gratitude today! Merry Thanksgiving!
(Now that I have typed all this, I am a little anxious about opinionated reactions. Please remember to be kind and we each have the right to our own opinion. My personal blog is simply sharing my own. :))