You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had.
Philippians 2:5 NLT
I don’t celebrate Thanksgiving, not in the traditional sense anyway. It’s not for religious reasons it’s simply because I don’t think we need one day to eat turkey and pumpkin pie, watch football with select friends and family and say a few “I’m thankful for’s”. Personally, I can eat turkey and pie any day I want, football is on TV for several weeks August through January and I should choose to be thankful every day. Don’t get me wrong, I do not condemn anyone who celebrates this holiday. I’ve partaken in my share of family gatherings on Turkey Day, overeating and even getting in some pre-Christmas shopping. But in the past few years, I have chosen to spend Thanksgiving alone. Most people I share this with are aghast that I am alone on a holiday and some insist I come to their home for dinner because “no one should be alone on Thanksgiving.” But I actually enjoy being alone that day. My life is so busy, especially in the fall season that the holidays (Thanksgiving and Christmas) are my guaranteed days to have nothing planned or scheduled and to just be at home. My children spend every Thanksgiving at a large family party and I take the day to just detach from the hub-bub of a hectic schedule. On Christmas day, my children are home with me. We spend the day enjoying presents, movies and again, unplugging from busyness-just like Jesus did in His ministry.
The New Testament has many verses on how Jesus would separate Himself from even His disciples to pray and regroup. Mark 1:35 is one example; “Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed. (NIV)” Luke 5:16 is another great example; “But Jesus often withdrew to the wilderness for prayer. (NIV)” Jesus often withdrew…why, because He was a very busy, very in-demand man. Jesus’ ministry consisted of many public engagements across multiple towns. They didn’t have planes, trains or automobiles back then. Travel consisted of walking or boat rides. Distances of 75+ miles (approximately 120 kilometers) were traveled by Jesus and His disciples in any given “road trip.” Each journey consisted of preaching to multitudes, performing miraculous healings, feeding 4000-5000 people, walking on water and calming storms. Some journeys consisted of a wedding or family gathering for some Jewish festival or celebration. Nonetheless if Jesus was in public He was bombarded with people. Some seeking His healing powers and the truth He preached, others trying to trip Him up and prove His message to be a fraud. One journey even consisted of a 40 day fast with the devil as His company.
Jesus was God, but He was God in human form. He grew tired and weary. He felt the overwhelming responsibility of His ministry and distracting pull away from what’s most important that comes from seasons of busyness. That is why He was faithful in getting away, even without those He was closest to, simply to regroup, recharge and keep His focus on the reason He was on this Earth.
As the busy Holiday season is fast approaching there’s so much we can get caught up in-planning parties and preparing meals, thawing turkeys and cheering for our favorite football team, choosing the perfect gifts to place under the Christmas tree, decking the halls and spreading Christmas cheer, even thinking about resolutions for the upcoming New Year. If you’re already an overbooked person like me, adding holiday craze to the agenda can make you feel like you’re at an all-you-can-eat buffet with a full stomach but having more and more piled on your plate. If we over eat we get major indigestion that can put us on the sofa twisted in abdominal pain for the rest of the day or until our body digests all that we consumed. In life, if we are overbooked and don’t escape the “noise” regularly, our bodies wear out and we can get far more severe health issues (physical and mental) that outweigh indigestion.
How truly enjoyable are the holidays when you’re bogged down with a to-do list that’s nearly impossible to accomplish anyway? Been there, done that and never enjoyed a single holiday when I was in that season. Now, I love the holidays because I am able to step back and focus on what the real purpose for the holiday season is. I hope this post encourages you to do the same. I am not suggesting you cancel all of your obligations or downsize on your Christmas shopping list. Nor am I suggesting everyone should boycott Thanksgiving like I do. My hope is that reading this encourages you to make sure you are setting aside time daily, once a week or biweekly (monthly is too far of a gap) to turn off the noise, get away from the hub-bub and decompress. Human beings are not energizer bunnies that keep going and going and going. We all need a good recharge. The holiday season is the perfect time to pause, reflect, pray and focus on what’s truly important in this life and the lives of those we are called to serve.