Tuesday in Thanksgiving week is all about house cleaning; I’m sorry, but I don’t have any tales to tell about that, nothing to chuckle about, nothing to report other than mission accomplished. I can assure you that there is nothing humorous about yours truly stuck with the job of cleaning a 4,000 square foot house… at least not from the perspective of this particular author. Now, from my wife’s point of view, it might be a different story, but she has her own blog for that!
It did give me time to think, because I guarantee you that if I think too much about how much I hate house cleaning, the job would never get done. Two things keep coming to my mind about Thanksgiving in the year 2015: First, is the way the markets look now versus the way they looked years ago, and the second is the role that tradition plays in all of this Thanksgiving business.
You see, when I was a boy and my Mom dragged me to the grocery store before Thanksgiving, the store was decorated lavishly for the holiday. No, not for Christmas; for Thanksgiving. There were pilgrims, Indians, turkeys, pumpkins, Indian corn, “Happy Thanksgiving” signs, and big displays of stuffing mixes, canned pumpkin for pies, bags of flour for pie crust… Thanksgiving was big deal in those days. Now? To look at the stores, you’d think this was the end of December as you listen to Paul McCartney singing about “simply having a wonderful Christmas time…”
The other thing of course is the role tradition plays in Thanksgiving for so many. Everything must be done a certain way, with certain dishes and certain arrangements, as though we were re-enacting that first Thanksgiving from 1621. Yep, I’ll bet it was the Indians who contributed the canned cranberry jelly stuff, or maybe the green bean casserole.
I’m not suggesting there is anything wrong with holiday traditions, nor am I suggesting there is anything wrong with family traditions; no, they are all good. What I beginning to think about is whether or not the traditions themselves might have become the “end” instead of the “means to the end.” Back when I did my “traditional” Thanksgiving dinner that I posted about the other day, I didn’t mention how many recipes I had to write out that day for people who said the food was amazing… “but NOT for Thanksgiving”. And what had I really done? I made the same dishes they had always eaten for Thanksgiving, only I made them from scratch, instead of from a box or a can. (Like any self-respecting food snob would do 🙂 )
As I scrubbed the last commode, the thought hit me; more of a question really… could it be that the decline of Thanksgiving in our culture tell us something about the decline of the church in our culture? Hmm… is there a metaphor in all of this?
I’ve got to get back to work now, but I’ll be pondering, and I’ll check back later this morning and see if you’ve had any thoughts. If you aren’t American (or Canadian) please don’t be put off by all of this. I know you may not have “Thanksgiving” but our churches face many of the same challenges, and I’d bet there is something comparable where you are; please feel free to share your thoughts as well.