From the Turkey to the Manger

I’m writing on the Sunday evening after Thanksgiving. Though most of us still have a bit of turkey left, we’re well on the way through the “My, what a wonderful bird!” stage and on into the “Let’s slap a hunk or two of turkey between bread” stage. We’ll soon belly up to Stage III: “Okay, let’s grind up what’s left and make turkey salad sandwiches.” Not for me, thanks. I’m okay with the first two stages, but I’ll pass on the third. After the poor bird hits the fan, I’m not much interested in him.

And now, though Madison Avenue started weeks ago (it’s a wonder Santa doesn’t end up skewered by a witch on a broom since some stores jump into Christmas almost before Halloween) and some folks are getting a jump on things by stringing and plugging the lights in a tad early, it really is time to start thinking about pulling out the Christmas stuff.

We’ll soon pull the plastic made-in-China tree out of its box and get busy, and it will be beautiful yet again. Still, I’m glad I grew up when getting the tree meant going to a tree lot, almost freezing but warming up over a wood fire lit in a 55-gallon drum, crunching snow underfoot as we walked down the rows of trees to pick just the right one, and then tying it onto the top of the family car to get it home. It smelled wonderful. It smelled like Christmas, and I love that smell.

For years, each year at about this time, I tempted fate by hanging over the eaves of our two-story tall house to put up the Christmas lights. A nose dive off a single story dwelling would be no fun, either, but there’s a word for a swan dive off our roof: FATAL. So nobody was happier than I was when I decided to build and light up some fiberboard shepherds who, along with their sheep, hang out just about halfway up the front of the house and who, I am relieved, pleased, and need to think, would look odd surrounded by additional Christmas lights.

Storyteller Garrison Keillor says that the folks in his Lake Wobegon town charged with setting up the city’s Christmas decorations at about this time each year still curse the volunteer handy man who built the decorations years ago out of 3/4-inch plywood! My fiberboard shepherds aren’t that heavy, and hanging those gents is a lot more fun than hanging string after string of lights at high altitude.

So I guess I’m about ready for the transition from “We Gather Together” and “Over the River and Through the Woods” to “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing!”

The “early church” of the first century was way too early to know anything about Thanksgiving American-style, but they could teach us a lot about giving thanks in general. The heart of their thanksgiving was this Advent sort of truth, a truth that bridges the gaps between all seasons: “For God so loved the world that he sent his Son.”

Which means he loves you. And me. A thought which makes it even easier to be truly thankful for that turkey, stages one, two, or even three.


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Copyright 2017 by Curtis K. Shelburne. Permission to copy without altering text or for monetary gain is hereby granted subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.




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