By Dr. James L. Snyder
It was a pre-Thanksgiving evening and the Gracious Mistress of the Parsonage and I were enjoying some hot cider tea. Nothing goes down quite as nice as a hot cider tea.
It was rather a quiet evening and I happened to glance over at my wife and saw her staring into space as it were. It concerned me because I knew that’s what she did when she was thinking about something.
The problem that faced me was simply this. Was she thinking about me or something else? If it’s me, I’m probably in trouble. If it’s something else, I’m probably in trouble. No matter which side of the fence I’m on, I’m in trouble.
I was tempted to ignore the situation and continue the silent evening but something inside me would not let me sit still. I don’t know what it is about us husbands, we don’t know when to shut up and we don’t know when to speak up. If only we could do the opposite of what we’re thinking at the time, we probably could get along much better with the opposite side of the fence.
“What are you,” I asked her quite simply, “thinking about so strongly?”
Continuing to stare into space, she was silent for a few moments and then she said, “I’m trying to figure out what gifts we should get for our family.”
Say what? I haven’t even demolished the Thanksgiving turkey yet and she’s thinking about Christmas gifts.
That is the way with my wife. She cannot let a day go by without thinking of something three weeks or two months down the road. She cannot sit still and enjoy the moment.
I, on the other side of the fence, am able to sit down and enjoy this silence of the moment. I do not have the jitters to get up and do something. I have the calm, relaxing feeling of just sitting and enjoying the moment.
I knew what was going through her mind; all of the members of our family and what they like to get at Christmas time. On my part, I cannot come up with all the members of our family without asking questions to someone across the room. I recognize them when I see them, but I always forget one or two when I’m trying to think about the family.
That is the difference between my wife and me. She can keep a list of the family in her head for months, yea even years and know exactly what they would like for Christmas and even for their birthday. I don’t even know their birthdays and have to be reminded by my wife.
Here we were, just a few days away from Thanksgiving and the wife is thinking about Christmas.
It seems to me that there is a reason why Thanksgiving comes before Christmas. Thanksgiving is a time that we give thanks sometimes for the turkey in front of us. Sometimes, for the turkey in the family, if you know what I mean.
I said very cautiously to my wife, “Just relax and enjoy the evening and wait until after Thanksgiving to work on your Christmas list.”
She came down out of her staring across the room and began staring at me one of those stares that I’ve experienced so many times in life. “I must,” she said most dramatically, “try to figure out what I’m going to get my family for Christmas.”
I flashed a smile back at her and cuddled up to the silence for a few more moments.
One thing I can say about her, she is very generous when it comes to giving, especially at Christmas time.
As for me, my focus is on Thanksgiving. It’s coming up very shortly and when it does, I want to be ready to enjoy every bit of that Thanksgiving dinner. I know that around the table will be a variety of family members. I know that some of them will be very chatty about what’s going on in their life. I will smile and nod most generously, but my focus is on Tom the Turkey.
As my muse took me a little bit further down memory lane, I began to see and appreciate the difference between Thanksgiving and Christmas. I know they are about a month apart, but there’s a bigger difference than days when it comes to Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Christmas is when you spend a whole lot of money buying Christmas presents for everybody in your family even those that, well, how can I say it, is not on your nice list.
Thanksgiving is quite different. Once I get beyond the turkey, I begin to realize that the purpose of Thanksgiving is simply to give thanks.
Christmas costs a lot, especially out of my wallet, but Thanksgiving costs more but in a different currency.
For Christmas, I have to work out a budget and I’m always, or should I say my wife is always over budget.
However, Thanksgiving is different. Thanksgiving is giving thanks and that has no monetary value on it at all.
Giving thanks is a good thing as David points out, “It is a good thing to give thanks unto the Lord, and to sing praises unto thy name, O Most High” (Psalm 92:1).
No matter how much coin I have in my pocket, giving thanks is the richest thing I could possibly give.