T-Day 2015

Another Thanksgiving has come and gone without incident! I guess that wasn't always the case. It was never one of my favorite days of the year; I guess I didn't know enough to be grateful and accept the holiday for what President Lincoln intended it to be when he created the national holiday in 1863.

Growing up, memories of the day included my brother and father arguing over the merits of the Vietnam war, my cousin Richard arriving drunk [or getting drunk while he was there] and my mother acting like a stark-raving mad woman while she did her absolute best to make sure everything was perfect. Those are the memories I chose to keep form the day. As I have got older, I have chosen to take an entirely different viewpoint of the day and focus on what the holiday is intended to mean, not what I think should be in it for me.

Except for my brother and sister, the guests at our annual Thanksgiving dinners of my childhood are all long gone. Many of them, such as my parents, grandmother and Aunt Emma, I miss a great deal and think of often. They contributed positive examples to my life of how one should be. While my Aunt Emma may not have been a deep thinker or particularly well-versed theologically, she was one of the best examples of Christ I had in my childhood. She seemed to have the ability to love unconditionally. My parents tried their best to instill in me a set of values which, at times, I seemed to abandon along the way, but later embraced as the only way to conduct oneself in this world and be the light that Jesus wants us to be for Him.

Thanksgiving comes each year and has, in recent times, brought about a new tradition. The guest list has changed and the topics of conversation are different, but much remains. The family is largely courtesy of my marriage to my wife. The five grandchildren are something I never thought I would have and must say they are right near the top of my gratitude list throughout the year-- not just on one Thursday in November.

Before I started to really give Jesus some serious thought and decided to live for Him, it was a day of bitter memories. My mom died the day before it in 1997 and that was something I decided to use as a catalyst to continue my negative self-pity binge for a few years. Thank God I came to terms with things and found the grace (a gift from God) to accept the things I cannot change. You see, I blamed God for that and every other bad thing in my life-- until one day it hit me that God was not to blame-- that our actions bring about unintended consequences like suffering and death. We live in a fallen world.

Spirit-filled Christians know what it is to live for Christ and in a regular state of gratitude. I am not trying to say that we are in that state 24/7 (we should be) but we strive for that and realize the countless blessings it imparts when we get there. What a difference it is to know Him and the fact that He is walking by our side with the presence of the Holy Spirit.

My parents died because we live in a fallen world-- that unfortunately breeds sickness and death. The same is true for everyone I have ever known and loved. It is inescapable (unless He returns before our lives end). God never intended for it to be that way. It was the result of a choice that Adam and Eve made. While death is inevitable, through Jesus we now know it as a doorway to a better life apart from here with Him. For that, how can I not be grateful?

I could go on and on, but we have much to do on this 'black Friday.' It is time to start putting up Christmas decorations! Hope you all had a blessed and wonderful Thanksgiving and best wishes for a merry Christmas!

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