I jokingly say Thanksgiving is my favourite holiday because of all the food (well, it’s mostly true), but it’s also my favourite holiday because Thanksgiving supper reminds me of the Lord’s Supper, which is a foretaste of the Great Banquet to come. Here, Christ invites us poor sinners to His supper table to partake of His body and blood in, with, and under the bread and wine for the forgiveness of sins.
Another name for the Lord’s Supper is Eucharist, which comes from the Greek verb that means “to give thanks.” This is why Thanksgiving makes me think of the Lord’s Supper and why it further reminds me of the promise of the greater banquet to come at Christ’s glorious return. So, another reason for Thanksgiving being my favourite holiday is that it teaches us to be thankful people.
Many Americans hold the tradition of going around the Thanksgiving dinner table saying what they’re thankful for, maybe more specifically what they’re thankful for this year. This is a good tradition. However, the danger of this is that we are only thankful people a few days out of the year during this holiday season. Ironically, we spend some time saying what we’re thankful for, then we go on a large shopping spree the day after Thanksgiving on Black Friday to get the things we don’t have enough of.
I hold a philosophy that as Christians, we need to practise being thankful people every day of our lives because we have a lot to be thankful for. Just think of the Eucharist—the very word that means “thanksgiving.” In everything that is involved in this rite—confessing our sins and receiving Jesus’ body and blood—it is a tremendous act of thanksgiving toward God. That is, we give thanks to God for sending His only-begotten Son to die for us, three days later to rise for us, and to deliver forgiveness to us in something as simple as the bread and wine in the Supper we partake. This is our thankfulness to God.
We should also practise thankfulness to each other. For example, whenever I go through the drive-through at a fast food restaurant, I always say “thank you.” I would hate to have that job! But somebody’s gotta do it. God bless them. So, I’m thankful for their humility to serve me in this way and I tell them as much with two simple words: “Thank you.”
I always say “thank you” to the waitress who serves me and I tip generously as a way of showing my thanks. I still tip well even when they might’ve done a poor job because I don’t know their circumstances. Maybe they’re having a bad day. Maybe they’re overly stressed. I don’t know the circumstances of their every day lives, so I tip well regardless of their customer service as a way to proclaim the Gospel. As a way of saying, “I forgive you. I get it; we’re only human. Sometimes we suck. Here’s a good tip regardless of your service. Next time will be better.”
I say “thank you” often to people whenever they do seemingly insignificant tasks. For example, my fiancé often does my dishes without me asking (for some reason, she actually enjoys doing dishes). Yet I tell her “thank you” anyway because of her generosity and my appreciation for her humility. I do the same thing when someone fetches me an item or performs some menial task on my behalf.
I say all this not to gloat about myself but as an example of how simple it is to live a life of gratitude.
Thankfulness is a rare quality in our culture. Today, we seem to live in a thankless society. It’s a culture of “serve me or else.” Not only that, but also, “Be perfect in your service, or I’ll tip you poorly, or I’ll talk to your manager, or I’ll sue you, or I’ll damage your reputation.” We Americans can be such ungrateful people at times, and it is sickening.
The Church is to be a city set on a hill (Matthew 5:14). Imagine the appeal the Church would have if Christians lived thankful lives, even for the most menial of tasks. Nobody really has to do anything for you. What harm is there, then, in humbling yourself by saying “thank you” when they’ve already humbled themselves to do something for you they don’t necessarily have to do?
So, this Thanksgiving, let us not only remember the things we are thankful for toward God and man, but also let us consider how we might live lives of thankfulness in our daily lives for the sake of proclaiming the Gospel, the ultimate thing we should be thankful for.