When I think back on my childhood, I have fond memories of celebrating holidays with my extended family. My family took every opportunity to get together … from Christmas to Easter to Memorial Day to the 4th of July … we were always together. All of them were fun, but the holiday that was my favorite is Thanksgiving. I think it’s because time seemed to slow down, if only for a day, in what had usually been a busy few months of school and work activities. It was as though the whole family was coming up for air to rest and enjoy one another. We always gathered at the home of my aunt and uncle where we played football or horseshoes or pool. My cousins and I would play outside for hours with adults joining us intermittently to “show us how it’s done.” The weather was always nice … not too hot, not too cold.
Thanksgiving has long been a day to reflect on the things for which we are grateful. I love how in recent years that intentional reflection has been extended to the entire month of November. In our busy lives, we often do not stop to think about the gifts in our life and to give thanks for them. Even in the darkest times of life, there are small blessings all around if we stay aware and take time to notice them. God is always with us. Throughout scripture – from the Psalms to Jesus’ healing ministry to Paul’s letters and beyond – we see people stopping to give thanks to God. We would all do well to cultivate that attitude of gratitude. It can truly change your perspective on life as well as the demeanor of those around you.
As you stop in appreciation this month for life’s blessings, I hope you’ll give thanks to God by giving back to others through our Christmas Village. This annual event offers low-income families the opportunity to shop for new gifts for their children at greatly reduced prices. But it’s more than that. It allows them the respect and dignity to pick out themselves the gifts that they think their children would enjoy. You can learn more about how to help by clicking here.
The Christmas Village is always a magical experience to watch as Avondale Samaritan Place comes alive for Christmas with gifts and excited parents who don’t often get an opportunity like this. I’m always thankful that I get to be a very small part of something so special. I hope you’ll join me!
Rev. Malinda Weaver