Most years, the Sunday after Thanksgiving is the first Sunday of Advent. Ah yes, good ol’ Advent. The Church has been trying for years to convince people — to no avail — that we should enjoy this wonderful season of prayerful anticipation that comes before the official Christmas season.
There is an interesting situation this year. Thanksgiving comes very early — the 23rd of November. Therefore, the Sunday following Thanksgiving is not the first Sunday of Advent, which instead occurs this year on December 3rd. The Sunday right after Thanksgiving is the final Sunday on the Church calendar: the Feast of Christ the King.
So, we have a wonderful opportunity this year. We can enjoy the Thanksgiving holiday the way it was originally intended, that is, by giving thanks. (You would think the name kind of gives it away, but far too many people have no clue.)
As a quick refresher course: In 1789, President George Washington issued a proclamation designating November 26 of that year as a national day of thanksgiving to recognize the role of providence in creating the new United States and the new federal Constitution. (By the way, George’s use of the word “providence” referred to the care and guidance provided by Almighty God, not the capital of Rhode Island.)
This might come as a shock to those folks who think the true meaning of the Thanksgiving holiday is eating until you can’t move, watching football on TV, and making a list for your Black Friday shopping excursion that begins before sunrise the following day.
Nope, the meaning of Thanksgiving is to give thanks, specifically to God Almighty for all that He does to provide for us. I admit that’s not quite as exciting as installing 4 billion watts of holiday lighting in your yard or getting into a fistfight at the mall. But thanking God has never been really flashy — it’s simply the right thing to do.
If we could enjoy Thanksgiving this year with a heart of gratitude, understanding that Christmas is more than a month away, it could really improve our peace of mind. Then if we go to Mass on Sunday and worship Christ the King, understanding that Advent is still a week away, we’ll have our hearts in the right place.
I hope you have a great and grateful Thanksgiving holiday. Have a holy season of Advent, too. Then have a wonderful Chris— No wait, I’m not even gonna say it. It’s way too early!