Thanksgiving – More Christian than Christmas?
Black Friday ads are everywhere. My friends who work in retail are already having nightmares where they wake up in cold sweats. You can smell it in the air. The Christmas rush is upon us.
…and so is the “Merry Christmas” vs. “Happy Holidays” debate. I’ve spelled out my philosophy on the matter over the last couple of years so you won’t have to hear me rehash that.
However, today I was talking with a friend who feels the same way and I came to a conclusion: Thanksgiving is more like Jesus than Christmas is.
PRESENTS: Christmas is a stressful time of gathering lists, fighting traffic or Amazon shipping, dealing with lines at shops and for what? In the case of children, buying a toy that they’ll be tired of before Christmas break is even over. For adults its buying technology that’ll be outdated by next Christmas or clothes that don’t fit or become outdated in the same time period. Thanksgiving. No presents. No stress. Let’s be honest, Christmas is known more for it’s commercialism than anything else. Thanksgiving has nothing to sell us.
After Jesus’ birth we don’t read about Jesus and presents. We do however read that his first miracle was to help keep a party going. ADVANTAGE: Thanksgiving.
PEOPLE: Christmas is a great time to spend with family. So is Thanksgiving. Christmas can be distracting with the presents. Thanksgiving can be distracting with the tryptophan induced comas. Both are redeemed by having genuine, heart felt discussions and food. Jesus loved spending time with people. In fact, that first miracle mentioned above was turning water into wine so that people could continue their celebration at a wedding. ADVANTAGE: Push
STRESS: Let’s be honest by Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, we’re all exhausted. Weeks of running around like mad finally catch up to us and we’re ready to be done. That stress can be apparent on Christmas Day as families rush from place to place to make sure we visit everyone. Thanksgiving the only real stress is whether or not the rolls are burnt on the bottom because someone tried a new baking pan. ADVANTAGE: Thanksgiving.
OVERALL JESUS LEVEL: When most thinking of Christmas, it Jesus and presents or the other way around, presents and Jesus. We think of lights, music, trees, nutcrackers, stop motion programs, the Grinch and a bunch of other feel good things. When we think of Thanksgiving we think of food, friends, and family. In the Gospel stories we don’t read about Jesus buying gifts or needing to impress a group at a white elephant party. We do read story after story of Jesus and his disciples and non-disciples sitting together. Talking. And eating. ADVANTAGE: Thanksgiving.
I would argue that based on what we read about Jesus in the Gospels that Thanksgiving, with its emphasis on spending time with people over food is more like Christ than Christmas.
Celebrate Jesus this year by celebrating Thanksgiving. Oops. I’m sorry. Holiday. No not that one. The other one.