Recently I heard a sermon in which it was asked which was my favorite holiday. I raised my hand when Christmas was mentioned partly because I knew where the sermon was going and didn't want to be the odd one out. In doing so I wasn't entirely honest. The truth is that I like Christmas very much, and the birth of Christ is certainly the most important event in history (along with Easter) that a Christian can celebrate. However, I think that Thanksgiving is actually my favorite holiday because it actually winds up being the time of rest and enjoyment that holidays should be.
Christmas, on the other hand, is not a time of rest, there does not appear to be much "peace on earth" (Lk 2:14), and its a lot of work to celebrate the birth of the Savior. Don't get me wrong. I'm not seeking to diminish the importance of the birth of Christ. If shepherds outside of Bethlehem can walk all the way into town to celebrate him stable-side, then the least I can do is hang a few strips of garland. But when you contrast the headache of preparation time with that of Thanksgiving, the turkey wins hands down. On Thanksgiving a meal is prepared (which my wifes masterfully performs) and guests are entertained; but then that's pretty much it. The rest of the time is spent relaxing and relating. Football may be on television and some wrestling may ensue between fathers and sons, but really it's a time of rest. This captures much more the biblical concept of "sabbath" (the idea that one sets aside their labor to enjoy the goodness, provision and person of God). I love Thanksgiving.
Why do I sound like a little "humbug" is creeping into my Christmas season? I'll tell you why! Christmas lights, clearly an invention of the devil, are both temperamental and unreliable. All of mine shorted out the other night, leaving the front of my house dark, covered in a web of non-illuminated wires. Who in history decided that celebrating Christmas required a degree in electrical engineering? In the future I'm taking a different approach to celebrating Christmas because this is ridiculous. As a celebration, Christmas is definitely worthy of our best festive efforts, but an approach must be possible that actually leaves some joy in the whole season instead of sucking it out through faulty electrical wires.