Thanksgiving represents more than food, football

Illustration by Emily Brinkman.

Illustration by Emily Brinkman.

Do you remember in elementary school when we would color pilgrims and turkeys as part of celebrating Thanksgiving? And in middle school when we were taught the real meaning behind Thanksgiving is to celebrate the first harvest in the New World? It seems that after grade school Thanksgiving is less celebrated for its meaning, but rather as a time for getting together for food and football. 

My family and I celebrate Thanksgiving a little different, but we still enjoy the food, the football and yes, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Some of my favorite memories are from our Thanksgiving potluck at church. Every family would bring a dish and place it on one of the tables in the hallway. After a prayer, we would line up and down each side of the tables to fill our plates. I can remember how amazing all of the home-cooked dishes tasted. Mrs. Debbie had the best bread roll recipe, and the pans always ran out too quickly.

After a while of chatting with our friends and family and filling our stomachs with turkey and pie, our pastor would do a short sermon about why Thanksgiving is a special time. We were created to honor and give thanks to God, Thanksgiving is a time to be grateful for everything he has blessed us with. Even though we fail every day, God still loves us, and that is something to be thankful for.

In my family, we have always had the tradition of getting together with friends and family to take the time to be thankful for all we have been given. One way my mom prepares for Thanksgiving is by printing out Bible verses for each person at the table. Before we eat, each of us would take turns reading the verses and sharing what we are thankful for. This moment really brings us closer together and helps us reflect on the past year. 

This will be the third Thanksgiving since I moved away from my home church. Being closer to extended family and having a new church has created new traditions for me and my family. I am so thankful for the people I have met and the opportunities I have had since moving to Mississippi, but I am most thankful to have been created and forever loved by the God who created the stars. On the good days, it is easy to forget or put aside just how amazing God is and how much I need him. With a sinful nature, I am deserving of death, but with the grace and mercy of God, I have been given a new life.

What a beautiful thing that is, to be loved so much by him that he’d send his son to be crucified on the cross as payment for our sins. By his salvation, we are promised eternal life with him in heaven. 

Over Thanksgiving, take a moment with your family, friends and even a quiet moment between you and God. Remember what we are celebrating; the life we have been given, the people we have and the sacrifice and resurrection of Jesus Christ, because not even death can beat him. He is worthy of our love and praise. We must share with others the good news, “For our Lord God Almighty reigns.”

Thank you, God, for sending your son to this earth to give his life in place of ours.