I stopped by Big Lots today, a store filled with many items. My husband and I thought we would replace some of our Halloween lights that are now burned out. We use them mostly for our church’s Trunk or Treat, but also to light our front porch prior to Halloween night.
What I am NOT Thankful for today. Walking into Big Lots, Christmas music. CHRISTMAS music! I will admit, I love Christmas music as much as anyone, but NOT on November 1. Can you imagine what that will sound like in six weeks with two more weeks BEFORE Christmas? Yeah, me too. And that is why I was not happy hearing it.
That was not the only reason, the other reason is that I truly hate the jump from Halloween to Christmas. I can understand it from a business point of view, after all, Thanksgiving is not really a retail paradise unless you sell food and drink. Thanksgiving can actually invite conversations on having enough and being content with the blessings a person has received. I want to celebrate and enjoy Thanksgiving before I get into the wonder and delight of Christmas.
So, like last year, I am embarking on a month of thanks. I know I should be thankful everyday and I am. November will be a month for me to be more intentional on the many blessings I receive.
So my first day of thanks has me reflecting on Halloween evening. The congregation I serve, West Heights United Methodist Church has done a Trunk or Treat for several years. The Membership and Evangelism committee sends notes home to children at four elementary schools. The congregation collects candy so that no one person or family has to bear the burden of buying candy for hundreds of children. They serve hot dogs, chips, hot chocolate and water. And people come to the church dressed up and their cars decorated.
This year, they did something different. I floated the idea of having books to give out along with candy. The idea came from my daughter who works at Better World Books, which is an internet retailer with a brick and mortar store in Goshen, Indiana. Each year, downtown Goshen stores hand out candy on Halloween. The bookstore, however, also hands out free books to children. They have boxes of books for children to go through until they find just the right book.
Using facebook, the idea was floated and immediately generated excitement. In one week, over 500 books came in. Last night, four tables of books were set out for children to look through and find one to take home. Parents could find one for their infants and toddlers. It was so wonderful to watch the faces and the laughter and hear the excited “look what I found!” Parents said things like “Oh, I read this one as a child!” And “thank you” upon “thank you” was given. Those inside said children walked in clutching their books and sitting down to read them.
Today, I am thankful for those who each year dedicate thousands of pieces of candy, who donate hundreds of hours and spend a very cold evening creating a safe place for children to Trick or Treat. I am thankful for all those who donated books so every child received not only candy, but a book to read and treasure.
I am graced to serve.