For as far back as I remember, the days from Thanksgiving to Christmas morning were exciting and my favorite time of year. As a child, I looked forward to basking in the cheerfulness that seemed to permeate the air. I liked the thought of being surrounded by people who behaved more pleasant and generous than usual. I also looked forward with anxious anticipation to buying, giving, and receiving gifts.
The excitement started with me sitting in front of the television in our modestly furnished living room watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade; to overeating later in the day, watching holiday movies on TV at night, followed by decorating our house and a Christmas tree.
The colorful decorations, caroling, and holiday parties that started on Thanksgiving pointed with optimism toward Christmas as a day devoted to spending time with family and experiencing the thrill of exchanging and opening gifts.
The Holiday Season still excites me. However, I now think of Thanksgiving as the unofficial start to Advent – a time in the Christian calendar that looks forward to honoring the day set aside to commemorate the birth of Jesus Christ, God’s greatest gift to the world, and a time for remembering Jesus will come again.
Likewise, as I have matured, my purpose for giving Christmas gifts has changed. I now give as a reminder that Christmas celebrates the loving, sacrificial offering the Creator made by gifting Jesus to the world to reconcile humanity to God.