I love Thanksgiving–the joy reflected in the faces of friends and family gathered around a table abundant with food, and the delightful conversations as we catch up on each other’s lives. There’s no agenda, no pressure or expectations–just time well spent. I want to hang on to that feeling a bit longer, but all too soon, I find myself swept up in the hustle and bustle of the upcoming Christmas season.

In the last couple of days, I’ve been reflecting on this question: How can I maintain the warmth of the Thanksgiving spirit as we enter the Christmas season? I long for a celebration that captures the relaxed essence of Thanksgiving rather than the hurried holiday craziness that we seem to slip into every year. Maybe you do, too.

As an indication of our family’s swift transition into the next holiday, our house was decked out for Christmas the day after Thanksgiving, complete with a beautifully decorated tree. It was a fun-filled morning because our visiting granddaughters were eager to join us in hanging the ornaments.  

Our house is now noticeably quiet as our guests have returned home. I miss them, so to keep them close, I sit and enjoy our uniquely decorated tree. Yes, some of the ornaments are grouped quite close together and on the lower parts of the tree, but that’s ok. It doesn’t have to be perfect to be perfect. As I enjoy the glow of the tree, my thoughts return to my question: how do I keep Thanksgiving alive through these next four weeks? 

My eyes wander over the conglomeration of ornaments that we’ve collected through the years. Some mark events like births and other milestones. Some are just fun, like Jim’s Santa in a Broncos jersey. But tonight, my attention is drawn to ornaments that remind me of what a good gift-giver our Heavenly Father is. Scattered among the sentimental ornaments are word ornaments that speak to the heavenly gifts that we’ve been given in the birth of Jesus: Hope, Peace, Joy, and Love.

Hope: Life is filled with numerous struggles, isn’t it? It’s so easy to become entangled in our daily worries and problems that we tend to easily lose sight of the broader picture. We have been given the precious gift of hope because of the resurrection. I Peter 1:3-5 says, 

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to His great mercy, He has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.” 

We have the hope that one day, He will make all things right. And so I wait, and I am thankful.

Peace: It doesn’t take much effort to look around us and see a world that is devoid of peace. There is unrest in our world, our country and even our households. Satan has sown chaos everywhere, but his reign will come to an end. A day will come when peace will prevail, but until then we can still embrace the gift of peace. Romans 16:20 tells us that the God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet! Until such time, Colossians 3:15 says, 

“…let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful.”

Joy: In a pleasure-seeking world bombarded by commercial influences, joy is often mistaken as receiving material gifts and experiences. As Christians, we recognize this as fleeting happiness rather than joy. Psalm 95:1-2 says, 

“Oh come, let us sing to the Lord; let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation! Let us come into His presence with Thanksgiving; let us make a joyful noise to Him with songs of praise!” 

Reflecting on the gift of God’s salvation facilitated by the birth of His Son brings great joy and causes me to offer praise and gratitude. 

Love: Over and over in scripture, particularly in Psalms, we are urged to give thanks to the Lord for His goodness and His steadfast love (see Psalm 136). Only a holy and benevolent God would see the sinful plight of mankind and respond in pure love by sending His Son for our salvation. God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son. What a remarkable gift! What an extraordinary display of love! I’m so grateful!

In my reflection, I’ve come to understand that Thanksgiving should be a natural response to Christmas. To fully enjoy the richness of the season, I need to first focus on the gifts from the Father because He is a generous giver. It is in Jesus alone that we can find secure hope, lasting peace, unspeakable joy, and steadfast love. This season, I choose to count my gifts from God. My humble response can only be one of thankfulness.


Yvonne is a part of our Christ’s Church family and is married to Jim, one of our Pastoral Care Ministers. They have 5 children: Joel, Kayla, Noelle, Angie, Ryan, and 5 grandchildren.

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