Posted tagged ‘thanksgiving’

Too Much Christmas

November 18, 2014

Dr. Steven J. Callis

Edward Pola and George Wyle declared it to be the most wonderful time of the year.  Bon Jovi wishes every day could be like Christmas.  It truly is a fun and festive season of the year, one that tends to melt hearts and bring out the goodness and generosity of people.

It is exciting to be part of the drama that unfolds as Christmas Day approaches.  As I child, the few days between school letting out and the arrival of Santa seemed like weeks or even months!  In my family the area beneath the Christmas tree was barren most of the two weeks it was displayed before the Big Day, and quite sparse even on Christmas Eve.  Then Christmas morning arrived, and the number of presents had doubled or tripled overnight.  Oh, how exciting!

Some of you like to complete your Christmas shopping early, maybe as soon as January!  For the most part, however, John Q Public begins thinking about Christmas coincidentally with the stores and media, which seems to come earlier every year.  There is some indication that we go directly from Halloween to Christmas, and Thanksgiving barely receives an honorable mention anymore.

Some radio stations are already introducing Christmas music in their programming, and stores have been displaying trees and decorations for a few weeks.  They want us to be certain that we do not miss this most wonderful time of the year!

Not meaning to be critical, my apprehension is not so much with the commercialism or whatever motivates our stores and stations and town streets to begin the Christmas season in October or November.  Rather, I am concerned that people may become weary of the sounds and sights and aromas and bustle and sales ads, to the point that before it ever arrives they simply want it to be over.  Too much Christmas can make us numb to the true joy and meaning of the season, when the actual time arrives to celebrate the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ.

The oversaturation of Christmas hype can easily rob us of the peace and joy we find in the truest reason for the season.  Therefore, I will choose to slow down and take it in bit by bit, to the degree that my mind and heart can receive it with meaning, appreciation, and adoration.  I will not allow too much Christmas to spoil my appetite for the real Spirit of Christmas Day.  I hope you will join me.



Is Your Cup Half Full or Half Empty?

October 20, 2014

By Dr. Steven J. Callis

Alexander was having a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day, so Judith Viorst decided to write a book about it.  Forty-two years later, Walt Disney Pictures has decided to take it to the big screen.  Poor Alexander!

We will read it, watch it, and laugh at all the mishaps of his day, all at his expense, and then feel a little bit better at the realization that our own circumstances could be worse than they are.  Everybody wins, even Alexander, as he learns that everyone has a bad day from time to time, even people who live in Australia.

Have you ever come to the place where you actually enjoyed your misery?  Is there a point where the self-pity party seems so well deserved that you do not want to leave the party too soon?  It is said that misery loves company, so the inclination is to invite other people to our party so they can see how unrelenting and difficult life can be.

In such a state of mind, we are prone to faulty thinking that assumes the worst, and our perspective is viewed from negative spectacles!  That is when the cup appears half empty.  Of course, it probably is leaking, or we will spill it if we try to fill it to the top, or any number of other things that can go wrong will, indeed, go wrong.  We might as well move to Australia!

In 1972, Kris Kristofferson wrote and recorded a song titled, “Why Me, Lord?”  With Rita Coolidge and Larry Gatlin backing with vocals, the song became his biggest hit in 1973.  The lyrics are from the perspective of seeing the cup half full.  He writes, “Why me, Lord? What have I ever done to deserve even one of the pleasures I’ve known?” Rather than asking why so many things go wrong, he seems to wonder why anything ever goes right. His is not a sense of entitlement, but of gratefulness.

I have heard people begin a thought with, “In a perfect world…” Often what they mean is, “If everything went the way I want it to go…” However, it is not our world. We are merely given a small spot on this earth for a brief time over the course of millenniums, and every breath of this life is a gift from God.

Soon Thanksgiving will be upon us, complete with football and parades and huge feasts and family and friends. However, we would do well to practice living every day with an attitude of gratitude. Yes, things could be better, but they also could be much worse. Let’s take a moment and give thanks today for those blessings we are privileged to enjoy.

A Day of Thanks and Praise

October 18, 2013

By Steven J. Callis

I recently saw a cartoon that portrayed a turkey grinning at the pumpkin which had been carved into a jack-o-lantern.  With a somewhat painful look on his face, the pumpkin declared to the turkey, “Laugh all you want, but you’re next!”

Thanksgiving is still a few weeks away, but many people are already making plans for this national holiday, working out the details of what has become a tradition of family, friends, turkey dinner, parades, and football.  Family gatherings require advanced planning as some family members will travel for a few hours or more to be in attendance.  The menu must be determined, and the preparation of its entrée’s must be delegated to the various attending guests.

Some families change the gathering location from year to year, while others may have one home that most easily accommodates the crowd, or a home that is more geographically centered than the others.  There seems to be some kind of unspoken rule that the host has the privilege of preparing the turkey (and keeping the leftovers!).

Another fun part of Thanksgiving for some people is the close examination of store ads in the newspaper,  anticipating “black Friday.”  Some of the excitement about black Friday is getting up before the chickens in order to be at the store when they open their doors.  Many stores have robbed people of that excitement by opening Thursday at midnight or soon after.

Well, who should we “thank” for all of this tradition and celebration?  President Abraham Lincoln is credited with declaring the last Thursday of November as a national holiday.  History records that Secretary of State William Seward wrote the actual proclamation document.

It is further noted that magazine editor Sarah Josepha Hale wrote a letter to the president requesting such a proclamation, stating that she had been advocating for 15 years for all of the States to recognize a common national thanksgiving date. Then, of course, there are the first settlers, the Pilgrims, who celebrated with a thanksgiving feast after their first harvest in 1621.  Many people had a hand in this holiday tradition!

Thanksgiving is not an official Christian holiday, but as you make your plans for this Thanksgiving, consider the words of President Lincoln, proclaiming “a national day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens.”  Let us give thanks with a grateful heart to the One from whom our blessings flow.