This will be my first time celebrating Thanksgiving in the U.S. since 2004.
It’s been interesting celebrating this holiday while living in two other countries, where Thanksgiving isn’t a holiday at all. It takes an extra degree of intentionality to celebrate when the culture as a whole is not on board.
We had to make special arrangements for someone to send us canned pumpkin from America. We had to negotiate with the local butcher shop to see if there was any way to special-order a whole turkey (turkey isn’t necessarily a common meat in some places outside the U.S.). We had to sometimes celebrate on a different day because Thursday isn’t a day off of work or school.
Intentionality. A desire to celebrate and a willingness to make it happen, to be counter-cultural, to do what needs to be done even if society isn’t supportive.
One year, we read Lincoln’s Thanksgiving Day proclamation. The final portion was especially meaningful as our group of American ex-pats gathered together.
“I do therefore invite my fellow-citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next as a day of thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners, or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it, as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes, to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility, and union.”
Lincoln called all of us, whether at home or abroad, to set aside time for thanksgiving, praise, repentance, and intercession. It wasn’t intended to be a holiday of convenience (try getting a whole turkey while on a ship in the middle of the sea!), but rather a holiday of intentionality that all Americans would choose to invest themselves in, rightly acknowledging the Creator, Sustainer, and Healer of all the world.
What will this Thanksgiving be like? Will it be easy now that I’m back in America? Will it be too easy? Will it just be a table filled with food, a television screen filled with football, with a living room empty of true thankfulness? Will it be gourmet desserts, fine China plates, and snoring bellies unable to remain awake in the midst of the gastro-strain?
Or will there be thankfulness, praise, repentance, and intercession?
Will this be a holiday of intentionality?