by Nancy Tichy, Author for KidZ at Heart International
This may be the most radical blog post I’ve written, so far. That’s because I’m going to ‘mess’ with tradition.
My extended family is not huge, but already the ones in charge of hospitality are beginning to make plans, drawing up a menu of sorts. Each cook submits what she wants to bring and a couple of us pull it all together the night before and during Thanksgiving Day morning to provide a sumptuous meal in a festive setting. It’s our family way – and, like yours, it’s good!
Of course, some of us work harder those holiday hours than at any other time of year. All of us consume enough calories in one meal to warrant a two day fast. We don’t bother to calculate the cost in dollars. We value our traditions and they’re worth the expense.
Here again, I’d like to suggest that we challenge our assumptions and place our year-end traditions on a grid that reflects God’s plan for us, and reflects what is happening in the world. Might we ask ourselves whether we create tradition-bubbles of happiness for our kids that end up keeping them from the joy of making a difference in the lives of those less fortunate than themselves?
And – many millions are very much less fortunate than we are. I’m talking about today’s refugees and IDP’s (Internally Displaced Persons) around the world. Some of them are peoples who live very simple lives close to the earth. Think Southern Sudan, for instance, and the ones who trek hundreds of miles with pitifully few belongings to escape being bombed in their villages. Or consider those who have known pleasant neighborhoods with plentiful belongings and prosperous lives. Think Syria where well-dressed professionals board busses with family members to flee the terrors of war.
Now, I’m not suggesting we cast a gloomy pall over our festivities. I am suggesting, however, that as fellow human beings, and certainly as Christians, we prayerfully find ways to incorporate into our celebrations this year a way to identify with the significant numbers on our planet who have precious little hope, whose reality offers little for which to be thankful.
I’m also recommending that we seriously search for ways that give our children, for one thing, a burdensome reason to be thankful. That we give our children intentional ways to make a difference in the lives of kids like them, in families much like theirs, who will not eat turkey, watch football, play games with cousins or indulge in decadent desserts.
I realize I’m asking for a small miracle, here. ..that enough of your extended family would agree upon a pared-down menu – say hearty soups and simple sandwiches. (Maybe keep the pumpkin pie?)
I think you see where I’m going with this. I believe God can give you wisdom and motivation to simplify your Thanksgiving, in order to channel part of your energy into a focus on refugees and IDP’s in some part of the world. These actions will plant growing empathy in your kids’ hearts and give them a window of opportunity to intercede for those who have little to be grateful for, other than the gift of life, itself. This would give them joy in joining Jesus who is even now interceding for us all.
Next time, I’ll share practical tips to help you make some radical changes to your Thanksgiving Day ‘menu.’ As always, your comments are very welcome.