Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. It is arguably the least commercialized. And it is centered in a meal shared by family and friends. I have great memories of Thanksgivings past. Mom and Dad driving us to Uncle Foozy and Aunt Marion's home. "Foozy" was his nickname. I only found that out when I was about 25 years old. The whole time I really thought he had been named Foozy. If you knew my uncle you would agree the name fit. Aunts and uncles, Grandpa, cousins everywhere--it was a great event. Since Sara and I have been married I have been the cook for Thanksgiving dinner. As I've said before I love to cook so it's a pleasure to put the menu together and share in the feast. I start a couple of weeks before, planning the meal, deciding what to repeat, what to do that's new, getting the shopping done and writing out my timeline for the day. This year we'll have friends over. Our kids couldn't join us. I call them kids. They're young adults living in different parts of the country. I'm roasting a brown ale turkey with gravy (new recipe), mashed potatoes, stuffing, green bean casserole, cranberry relish, and a pumpkin tart for dessert with crème fraiche (new recipe). Friends are bringing salmon mousse, wine, and lots of love.
I wish for you and yours a wonderful Thanksgiving.
Of course, Thanksgiving is the prelude to the Big Event. No, I don't mean Black Friday. The term originated in Philadelphia in 1961, and, over time, took on a bigger meaning. For retailers it is the time of year when they actually begin to make a profit, thus moving out of "the red" to "black" numbers.
I don't like the term.
In Christian tradition the time after Thanksgiving is a time of preparation for the real Big Event, the celebration of the birth of Jesus. Many think of Christmas as a holiday, but it is one of the holiest days of the year for Christians.
At least it's supposed to be that way. Starting the season on a day called Black Friday?
Sadly, many Christians simply follow the crowd that is already in the "Christmas Spirit," at least in the sense they are singing carols, having parties, buying gifts and often overindulging. Historically the Christian year begins on the First Sunday of Advent, usually the first Sunday after Thanksgiving. Advent means coming and is characterized by four Sundays of preparation for the coming of Christ. Each Sunday has a theme for reflection. Taking time to think of what it means to be people of Hope, Peace, Joy and Love leads us to the claim that all of those things have been realized by the birth of Jesus.
And it doesn't stop there. We celebrate the Season of Christmas for 12 days. Many people I know are sick and tired of Christmas by December 25th. But for those who have taken time to prepare during Advent, roughly 28 days before the 25th, the celebration has just begun.
Christmas ends on January 6th, Epiphany, a word meaning arrival or manifestation. Theophany is also used, which means vision of God. Many Christians actually open presents on January 6th in memory of the Magi who presented gifts to the baby Jesus.
So there you have it. Christmas from a traditional Christian perspective. But maybe the question remains,"What's so big about the Big Event?" The heart of the Christmas message is God's promise to bring peace on Earth and good will for all people. Foretold in the prophets, it is the real Big Event. One we're invited to be a part of.
Peace on Earth. Good will for all people. Is it really possible? Now that WOULD be big.