Thanksgiving became an official United States Federal holiday in 1863, when President Abraham Lincoln declared a national day of “Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens.” He went on to call the American people to show God’s tender care to widows, orphans, mourners, and sufferers (Lincoln). Thanksgiving originated as a day centered on being thankful to God and giving to those in need.
Giving Tuesday, the Tuesday after Thanksgiving, was founded in 2012 by the 92nd Street Y. It was created as an organized effort to celebrate giving, in response to the commercialism and consumerism of Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
After previous days of gorging and shopping, Giving Tuesday has a misplaced priority by coming in last. It has a spirit of penance, not a heart of giving. ME! ME! ME! ME! Okay, now I feel fat and guilty, so let me find a credit card I haven’t yet maxed out and I’ll throw a few bucks to a charity so I feel better. I’ll post about it on Facebook and all the Likes I get about my good deeds will help me feel better. Selfless giving can only be classified as such when it’s done selflessly, not when it’s scrounging up leftovers with the driving motivation of easing a guilty conscience.
President Lincoln already covered the topic of giving in the established purpose of Thanksgiving. Instead of tacking on another day to give, five days after the original day of thanks, it would be truly selfless to put the “give” back in Thanksgiving.
My point is not to bash the intentions of Giving Tuesday or to use guilt to motivate giving, but to restore the original meaning of Thanksgiving. What would it look like if we chose to give out of a heart full of thanks and abundance? What if some of the time spent with family and friends on Thanksgiving was devoted to conversing about giving?
I am thankful for the blessings God has given me, enabling me to give. We are all equipped to give, and it’s beautiful to do so out of a grateful heart. Here are several organizations I support, giving my time/money: LifeChurch, The Chalmers Center, The A21 Campaign, Amazon Smile, Project Linus. When giving stems from my heart, my heart receives in return.
Giving shouldn’t be motivated by guilt on any day of the year, whether on Giving Tuesday or Thanksgiving. I would like to suggest tapping the breaks to deactivate the autopilot mode of living, taking a moment to think about the motives and reasons behind your actions (your core beliefs), then choosing the corresponding actions to live your beliefs with integrity.
I’m concluding with a challenge for you to answer these questions: Are you going to live your life with a heart of giving? How? What choices will you make on Thanksgiving, the following Tuesday, and all of the days that follow? I’m interested in reading what you have to share about your current giving habits or new giving habits you plan to implement!