My mom used to say that when we were younger, the Thanksgiving meal was always a bit of a letdown. Anyone who has watched Standard 1’s and 2’s eat lunch can imagine why. My mom had spent hours preparing turkey, all the sides, dressing, and usually a couple of pie options for later. She would direct traffic to make sure the table was cleaned off, set, and ready to go. We would gather around, pray, share our meal, and us kids would be off playing 20 minutes later, if we lasted that long. Then, when we were still too young to help, she would be left to clean up while my dad watched football.
I like to think, whether it’s true or not, that the letdown eased over time. As we grew older and took more of the responsibilities on and began to share in the meal preparation, the time we spent together took on a larger importance and was more spread out over the day. Then, when the meal was over and we took over clean-up duties, she could relax. When everything was cleaned up, we could all relax.
As a matter of fact, the day after Thanksgiving is the only day, aside from Christmas day, that I think we spend most of in our pajamas. Sleeping in in the morning and hanging out at home are the only priorities of the day. We usually break out the Christmas music and start our decorating for the season. Very rarely do we actually leave the house, and only if there is something of highest importance that we need to get. After the whirlwind of activity the previous days have given us, it is nice to take a bit of a break.
Indeed, the day after Thanksgiving becomes a sort of Sabbath for us. I’m not talking the “do no work” sort of Sabbath that is observed in the Old Testament, although there is one Sabbath observance in the Old Testament that mirrors Thanksgiving well, actually. In Exodus 16, Moses is in the desert with his people. There is a verse that says “He said to them, “This is what the Lord commanded: ‘Tomorrow is to be a day of Sabbath rest, a holy Sabbath to the Lord. So bake what you want to bake and boil what you want to boil. Save whatever is left and keep it until morning.’”
With all the baking and boiling that goes on at Thanksgiving, there are always leftovers for the next day, which only helps make the Sabbath easier to keep. Our Sabbath is not about doing no work as the Old Testament demands, but is more about spending time to slow down and simply be with God. The day after Thanksgiving is a day as much about togetherness as Thanksgiving Day itself. It is a day to slow down and remember the family God has given us and to begin to prepare for the Advent season.
Father, You command us to observe the day of rest, by keeping it holy. You made this commandment for our benefit that we might be renewed spiritually and physically. Help us to be careful to set this day apart as we honor You in, as we spend quality time with our family members, and as we take time to rest from our labor. In the name of Jesus we pray. Amen.