(Image courtesy of http://www.history.com.)

"Happy Thanksgetting."  "Happy Holidays."  "Black Friday."

Santa Claus.  Easter Bunny.  Turkey Day.

This year, more-so than any other year, I am frustrated.  No, my milk didn't spill over, neither did my dog get sick and die.  But I am still frustrated.  Why?  Because days set aside as holy and reverent have become anything but holy and reverent.  Instead, marketing campaigns have diminished the celebrations of holidays such as
Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter.

As many readers may already know, the word "holiday" actually means "holy day."  Holy is a powerful word.  It is used to describe the character of God.  "Be holy as I am holy" (I Peter 1:16).  Essentially, the word holy means "set apart" or "pure".  A holiday, therefore, is a day set apart from work and other typical events.

Initially, holidays such as Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter were set apart to remember historical Christian events.  Thanksgiving has its earliest roots in the 1600s, when Native Americans and Pilgrims from Europe celebrated God's provision for their survival and safety throughout their first days in the New World.  In all honesty, the Pilgrims had a lot to be thankful for....

In the late 16th century in England, the Puritans sought to establish their reformation of the Roman Catholic Church as the state Church of England.  There were some, however, who did not agree with the beliefs mandated by the State, so a group of Separtists (who would be later known as the Pilgrims) disconnected from the Church of England and sought religious freedom elsewhere.  Understandably, persecution followed the Separtists wherever they went.  Because there was no place for the Separtists to escape in order to practice religious freedom, they boarded the Mayflower in September 1620 in search of greener pastures.  Faced with economic difficulty in Holland, the Separtists turned their sails for a new world.  In November the Mayflower landed in Plymouth, Massachusetts.  But their struggles had only just begun.

The Pilgrims landed on bare, untamed wilderness.  Winter was fast approaching and they had no shelter.  Many became ill, leaving half of the near 100 Pilgrims dead.  Yet God provided for them.  William Bradford, passenger and later Governor of Plymouth Plantation, wrote in his journal Of Plymouth Plantation:
“May not and ought not the children of these fathers rightly say: 'Our fathers were Englishmen which came over this great ocean, and were ready to perish in this wilderness but they cried unto the Lord, and He heard their voice, and looked on their adversity.... Let them therefore praise the Lord, because He is good, and His mercies endure forever. Yea, let them which have been redeemed of the Lord, shew how He hath delivered them from the hand of the oppressor. When they wandered in the desert wilderness out of the way, and found no city to dwell in, both hungry, and thirsty, their soul was overwhelmed in them. Let them confess before the Lord His loving kindness, and His wonderful works before the sons of men.'”
 With the assistance of the Native Americans, and most famously Squanto, the Pilgrims survived the winter.  In 1621, marking the one year anniversary of the Pilgrims landing at Plymouth, the First Thanksgiving was celebrated after the harvest with ninety Native Americans and fifty-three Pilgrims (History.com).

Yet this story, like so many others, has been hijacked by our societal obsession with ourselves and our material possessions.  "Happy Thanksgiving" has now been replaced with "Happy Thanksgetting", which refers to all of the great "deals" a shopper can get when they shop for Christmas presents around Thanksgiving.  The thought frustrates me.

Let us remember the Lord this Thanksgiving.  "Come and hear, all you who fear God; let me tell you what He has done for me!" (Psalm 66:16).

This Thanksgiving, oh Church, oh Bride of Christ, what will you celebrate?

"Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good.  His love endures forever!" (Psalm 107:1).