Many years ago when I was a young boy, my mother, who was an excellent cook, taught me how to prepare a turkey according to the Pope School of Cooking – her favorite school for the culinary arts. Since Janet and I were first married, and that’s 40 years now, I have been heading up the turkey duties in our family. It is true that over time I have been able to reduce the cooking time with the advances in the turkey industry and with more modern ovens – but other than that, little has changed in the last 4 decades. This year, for the second year, Andrew has been apprenticing with me in preparation for the day when he finally takes over and assumes the responsibility of preparing the main course each Thanksgiving.
There is one other thing, unrelated to the turkey, that has changed over the last number of years. And that is that the retail stores are opening earlier and earlier each year to try and get a jump on ever increasing numbers of people who are shopping online. And I think that in response to this phenomenon, people are getting in the holiday spirit in early November and this year, for the first time, I saw Christmas displays and heard actual Christmas carols before Halloween. Now I hope that you agree that Halloween is way too early for Christmas cheer.
While we are all familiar with Black Friday, the largest shopping day in the year, the following Monday, Cyber Monday, is one of the largest online days in the year. In order to thwart the ever increasing number of online sales, the retailers are opening their stores earlier each year in the hopes of creating distance between Thanksgiving and the following Monday. I was actually speaking to a friend of mine who is the GM of a retail store and he said that many stores are opening late Thanksgiving night rather than the traditional 5 am opening that has become so popular in the last decade.
Aside from the obvious issue of staffing stores overnight and then all day Friday until closing times approaching 9 pm, an interesting thing is happening this year. Employees are signing petitions that they don’t want to work on the Thanksgiving holiday and would rather spend time with their families. While some retailers are understanding of this desire to be home with loved ones, other owners of malls are rewriting leases to require stores to be open all hours the malls are open and so, before long, Thanksgiving will be a thing of the past – forgotten in the rush to make a buck. Come to think of it, Christmas is heading the same direction.
It’s even odd that so many people are failing to stop and reflect on the events of the past year. In our family, we have had heartache, broken relationships and the death of both of Janet’s parents in the last several months. Thankfully, we haven’t had serious issues with health problems other than Andrew’s hand surgery and a periodic broken crown for me – which happened again this evening, by the way. In spite of all these things, we have had incredible blessings as well – and that is what we have chosen to focus on. Yes, we will miss the people who are absent from the group – and we are grateful for the health and good fortune the family has had in other areas.
We truly have much to be thankful and grateful for. And it is very important for us to remember all the good things that have happened to us in the past year. Even in the midst of trials, tribulations, pain and suffering, God expects us to remember the good times and focus on being grateful and thankful – always.
The verse for this evening is from Col. 3:15, where we are told by Paul, “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.” End of story – be thankful. My encouragement this evening is that there is always something you can be thankful for – and Thanksgiving, of all days, is the day to celebrate that. My prayer is that God will bless you and keep you and that next year is better than the one we are in. Furthermore, I pray that you will be ever more thankful as your relationship with God continues to grow. Have a great day in the Lord, grace and peace…