Outside the Walls: Time to Have Those Thanksgiving Talks

Nanny’s house is a special place. My wife’s extended family floods Nanny’s modest home every Thanksgiving, and we are greeted with her love, kindness and hospitality. She makes all of us feel so special and creates an environment for us to connect. Sometimes we see family members we haven’t seen since Christmas. We eat in shifts in her kitchen and move in and out of her home as we reconnect and hear stories from the past year. Normally, my brother-in-law, Jamey, and I both fry a turkey and compete over which turkey has the most left over. Of course, his turkey always is picked clean, but I am convinced there is a conspiracy and that he eats most of it. In an official contest, I would dominate.

I imagine we are a lot like you. We talk about the past few months, and we catch up. Someone will notoriously bring up how USC has dominated Clemson the past few years, and then they are reminded of the entire series. Friendly bets will be made on this year’s game and will never be paid. The ladies will talk about the children, and the men will talk about hunting. Then we will stuff our faces and loosen our belts. Later, we will attempt to relive the glory days and play an impromptu football game as we make room for dessert. Nanny always makes my favorite cake.

In most homes this Thanksgiving season, there will be only one time when God will be talked about. It will be during the blessing before the meal. Sometimes those closest to you are the hardest to talk to about Jesus. This year may be a great year to start a new tradition. Live that day on mission. Listen to the stories of your family. Let your family know how God has worked through you this year. Make the prayer for the meal more personal, and ask others to mention one thing for which they have been thankful to God this year. This may open up the conversation toward spiritual things later on. If you really want to go the extra mile, don’t wait until next year to talk to them. Look for ways to serve them and continue the conversation about Jesus. If you love your family, you will offer them hope about the cure to their disease of sin, and that cure is found in Jesus. If you remain silent, do you really love them?

Maybe you start a totally new tradition. Maybe you use this day to connect with someone who does not have anywhere to go, and you ask them to be your guest at the Thanksgiving meal. Allow them to experience the love and acceptance you feel every year. If you live near a major university, you could contact the Baptist Collegiate Ministry director and see if there are any college students from a foreign culture that have nowhere to go during the holiday; nearly 80 percent of them spend four years in college in America and never step foot in an American home. There is a good chance they are not Jesus-followers.

It’s fine to talk about football and the weather, but if you really want to make Thanksgiving memorable, tell those close to you about Jesus and what he has done in your life. Who knows? Maybe you will gain a new member to God’s family.