Posted by: Lauren Gaskill | November 15, 2010

Thankful Giving: The Heart of the Holidays

This article of mine was published in the Wings of Hope Magazine 2009 Holiday Issue.  I felt it fitting for this time of year to re-publish it for those who did not have the opportunity to read it in print:

Prepare yourself for those cheesy Christmas tunes: Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s are fast approaching yet again. Everyone participates in the annual traditions of the winter months. Roasting turkey, mixing mashed potatoes, eating pumpkin pie, giving thanks, decorating Christmas trees, wrapping presents, drinking hot cocoa are just a few of the staple activities of the holidays. But what if we implemented a new tradition? What if something else became a staple of the holidays?

Thanksgiving is not merely a feast of delicacies; it is a historical annual event. Its origins reach back to 1621 when Plymouth Colonists and Native Americans celebrated and gave thanks for a successful bounty of crops.

Today, Thanksgiving festivities remain the same, but the meaning behind the celebration is different. We are not colonists, and we do not have to cultivate our own food. So how is a successful harvest relevant to us today? How do we relate to the Pilgrims? For starters we can still thank God for our food, but this will only scratch the surface. There is so much more to be thankful for.

One of the biggest mistakes Christians—or anyone for that matter—can make is to take things for granted. It is hard for many of us to relate to those who are desperate and struggling because, in America, the majority of us are blessed with more than enough to live. The American standard of living is beyond what any other country in the world experiences; granted, there is still poverty, but it is not as rampant. We go on living our pampered lives and often forget about the billions of other people who are less fortunate.

It would be wonderful to see this selfish-sort-of lifestyle replaced with a contagious love for others.  In 2 Corinthians 9:12 Paul writes, “The service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of God’s people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God” (NIV).  Paul tells us that when we give, we should do so with a thankful heart.  Service begins with an outpouring of gratitude; by humbly serving God and others this holiday season, we can give the most precious gift of all, love.

January 2, however, should not mark the end of gracious giving.  What would happen if others noticed our continued state of thankfulness and giving? As believers, we can influence others to act similarly.  We can make thankful giving a yearly, or perhaps, daily tradition.

The next time you see someone who is suffering or in need, I challenge you to reach out your hand. The world could be an entirely different place if all of mankind began to help one another. We are the hands and feet of Jesus Christ.  We have been blessed to be a blessing to others. Remember this holiday season: it is not about us, it is about God and His plan. He came to the world to offer up his life to save us. He gave ultimately with his life, He was the ultimate giver. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving and a Merry Christmas!

Lauren Hardy
Wings of Hope Teen Scene Columnist


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