Thanksgiving and the beginning of Charity

My favorite holiday is Thanksgiving.  I will admit that this meal: turkey, stuffing and all the rest is not the easiest of meals for me to prepare.  It’s a bit too much of a time-crunch in my small kitchen for everything to be hot at the same time, for the table.  But it always works out.

Thanksgiving launches the gift-giving time of year.  As long as we’re dealing with confessions, I will say that one reason I prefer Thanksgiving over Christmas, as far as the commercial side of these holidays goes, is there is less pressure to get, obtain, or procure stuff for others, and more gratitude for all that I’ve received.

I think perhaps Thanksgiving is also the more charitable of holidays because we are reminded of everything we’ve received.  After all, my preferred Thanksgiving décor involves the “Happy Harvest” greeting, pumpkins, gourds, leaves, cornstalks and all things produce, which remind us of harvest of the year’s efforts.

So, I muse this time of year about the blessings of giving and receiving.  I start my musing on the Scripture I Corinthians 13:13, from the “old” King James version of the Bible which goes something like this: “Faith, hope and charity, of these three virtues, the greatest of these is charity.”

I get a kick out of words, and I like this old-fashioned version (KJV) which uses the word charity, rather than newer versions which substitute the word love in this Scripture.  The word, charity means in this sense, social or moral love.  This is different than romantic love, or even Christian love (agape).  It means charity.

Are you aware that when you give to a charitable cause or you give charitably to a person, or group, you are extending love to them?  This type of love is one of the more selfless acts of human-kindness.  In this kind of gift-giving you are reaching out to a person, group, or institution which is supposedly weaker than yourself, and you are extending your hand of strength to lift them up to be your equal.

As circular thinking goes inside my brain, this caused me to wonder about Acts 20:35 where the Apostle Paul tried to mediate some bickering among associates about which spiritual gifts were better.  He concluded that it is more blessed to give than to receive.  I mean, I shouldn’t argue with the canon, but which one feels more blessed?

We raised a daughter who has been an excellent receiver of gifts since early childhood.  This kid was grateful for every gift she ever received from anyone.  She lavished genuine thanks to all for every gift from expensive ones to cheap, cheap, cheap ones, from dollar stores to Saks Fifth Avenue.  In fact, I think she treasures to this day some cheap, free jewelry my dad gave to her, trinkets he received in the mail for free from places he ordered from or places who wanted donations or whatnot.

As an adult, our daughter loves nothing more than gift-giving, proving that it is equally blessed to give and to receive, if both are heartfelt.  You know, some people have a hard time receiving; perhaps they perceive it as weak and they’d rather be the giver who controls the transaction.

Then, I thought, nothing makes you want to give, more, than a good reception.  What is it about the reception, when you give?  I know, that when I give to someone, and it’s often to people I know, and they receive it as a blessing, I feel caressed, cherished, and cared for, all definitions of charity.

It does the heart good to give something to benefit the life of another.  And when that other receives one’s gift with joy and thanksgiving, it does their heart good.  So, in my mind it’s the chicken-egg conundrum.

But what a conundrum to have. Give-receive?  Receive-Give?  Giving and receiving are both good if done with Thanksgiving.

Then there is Christmas, based on the gift of Christ, but it has been extended by the acts of St. Nicholas, or Santa Claus’ charitable gift-giving and to all of us who have followed after him.  And so, the season of giving and receiving begins.  Happy Thanksgiving.

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