It’s that time of year again! The frantic holiday season is about to begin. In our over-commercialized culture, Thanksgiving Day has become the kickoff for the Christmas blitz. Unless you take charge of your holiday schedule, you will succumb to clever advertisements and cultural expectations.

What will you do to celebrate Thanksgiving? Enjoy family meals, football games, shopping and more shopping? Festive meals, competitive sports and bargain shopping may be fine ways to celebrate, but if these are your only objectives for Thanksgiving, you are missing some great opportunities.

Perhaps the holiday weekend would be more enjoyable if you avoid a hangover, indigestion and shopper’s remorse. As you celebrate Thanksgiving this year, consider including some activities that will enrich both your faith and your family relationships:

  • Attend a community or area Thanksgiving service.
  • After your family dinner, take time to recount the blessings of the past year.
  • Invite a person who cannot join his or her family for Thanksgiving to be your guest on this special day.
  • If you begin decorating for Christmas on Thanksgiving weekend, make decorating a family affair by involving each family member.
  • If you must travel to your Thanksgiving destination, use the traveling time as an opportunity to highlight the things for which your family is grateful.
  • Take time to make a list of your personal blessings and give thanks.
  • Especially give thanks for your freedom, and then pray for our nation and our world.
  • If you go shopping, be a good manager of your resources, stay within your means and avoid high interest credit.
  • Spend some quiet moments reflecting on the specific ways God has blessed you and how you can employ those blessings in the service of the Lord.
  • In response to God’s blessings in your life, give a “thank offering” to your church, to a mission fund or to the charity of your choice.
  • Continue your holiday celebration by attending Advent services on Sunday.

Perhaps some of these activities will serve as helpful suggestions to you, or maybe they will inspire other good ways for you to celebrate. Thanksgiving is a time to be with family and friends.

Thanksgiving is a time to celebrate the richness of relationships.

And Thanksgiving is a time to express gratitude for the bounty of God’s blessings and to recommit ourselves to being good and generous stewards of those blessings.

Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks unto him and bless his name. For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.” –Psalm 100:4-5

Barry Howard is senior minister of First Baptist Church in Corbin, Ky.

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