Thanksgiving can be time of stress, trust God during the holidays, He is more than enough, He is our peace

Published in War Cry – Nov 24th 2001                       

The Thanksgiving Carole

by Fran Fernandez

“Oh, no, Lord, not already!  Where did the time go,” I silently moaned as I heard the front door slam.  I quickly squeezed one more flower in the Thanksgiving centerpiece due at church in just three hours.  I couldn’t believe I had committed myself to this project still having a doctor’s appointment, errands and last minute Thanksgiving dinner preparations to complete – plus there was Thanksgiving service this evening! 

“Bah-humbug – or better yet – bah-turkey day!” I thought.

““Mommy, look,” John, my five-year old, cried as he ran and waved his school bag.  Before I could get up, he was on my lap, anxious to show me his things from the class Thanksgiving party.  I quickly kissed the back of his neck and hoped he wouldn’t want to help with the project scattered in front of me.

His face aglow, he dug in his school bag for his treasure.  With hurried enthusiasm he showed me all his pictures and cards.  His fingers slowly started to open every one. Each one to him was like a new-found jewel, which seemed only to gain value as he shared it.

 I longed to hurry him up, my mind on the still unfinished centerpiece and the many things yet undone.  I told him we had to hurry, and I tried to help him open his cards. But as a determined child will do, he resisted any attempts of assistance.

Impatient for him to open the next one, my gaze wandered from the mess on the table to the family photos on the wall.  We called it our Memory Lane. Each picture was a reminder of a special occasion from years past. Each one so fresh in my heart – they all seemed like yesterday.   My oldest son, Frank in one photo was five, the same age as John on my lap now. There he was waving a big drumstick on a Thanksgiving Day gone by. 

With the shock truth can bring, I realized it wasn’t yesterday.  It was thirteen years ago! For a second I felt a little like Ebezener Scrooge might have when he was escorted back through life by Ghost-of-Christmas-Past.  Except, mine was the Ghost of not only Christmas’, but Thanksgivings-Past too. How many Thanksgivings ago – how many rushed days had I sprinted through because of rush and life’s pressures – just like today?

I almost heard the pages of the calendar being torn off, carried away by the never ceasing wind of time- and again it would be tomorrow.  So soon, and long gone would be the days John would sit upon Mommy’s knees. So soon and these worries and pressing commitments would be as dry ashes.  So soon, he’d be too “grown up” for hugs and kisses.

With these melancholy thoughts, I looked at yet-to-be-finished centerpiece and I instinctively reached to straighten the lopsided bible verse in the middle.   The verse couldn’t have been more personal if the Lord had e-mailed it to me from heaven.

Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name ( Ps.100:4 (KJV).

 In the stark light of God’s word, I was being anything but thankful.  Tomorrow was a day of celebration to our Lord for His goodness to His people.  Here I was complaining about serving Him in the church, and serving my child, my family and friends.  How easily I was letting the days slip through my fingers and heart. For indeed, so soon it would be tomorrow again.  I sorely need a dose of thanksgiving for each moment, each day, the Lord gave me.

“Oh Lord, I pray you help me by your sweet Holy Spirit to stop and hold precious the moments you give.  May I not be so rushed, so pressed in by life that these often disguised gifts from Your hand will go unopened – never to be seen again.  Let me not miss the flowers of your heavenly garden that grow in my days. May I hold them close so their fragrance will linger through my seasons of drought which will come.  Help me not let them be quietly kidnapped by the demands of time and duty. 

May I have the peace of knowing I am your child, and therefore not a victim of circumstances and people.  Help me to know that my life, my days, my Thanksgivings – everything I care about, is in your loving hands. You who are the Blessed Controller of all things.  Help me to walk with you each day so my eyes will be clear to see, and I will be ever thankful for all things. Amen”

If this were an, It’s a Wonderful Life, kind of movie, it would have a happy fixed ending. But, life as a Christian and a parent, has no fixed endings—except for heaven.  It’s ever growing, advancing, and sometimes standing still. Once in a while it’s even going back. However, then it just gives God another opportunity to shower us with His never-ending love and grace, and we once again get up and run the race.  Though this was many years ago, I have never forgotten the day God reminded me to enjoy today as soon it will be tomorrow.