The Chaplain's Notebook


It is common to call the months of November and December “the holyday season.” Thanksgiving, Hanukkah and Christmas are some of the happiest times of the year for children and their families. During this time, we give gifts of love and appreciation to one another. We visit and spend time with our families. We save money during the year and wait for Christmas sales in order to get the gifts we desire for our loved ones and ourselves. Thank God, we have this opportunity because we live in the best country in the world. When the Pilgrims reached this land and settled here, they wanted to express their thanks to God Almighty. Pilgrims were sincerely thankful to God, who allowed them to reach a land of freedom.
As president of the United States, George Washington proclaimed the first nationwide Thanksgiving celebration on November 26, 1789. He marked the occasion “as a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging, with grateful hearts, the many … favors of Almighty God.” President Ulysses S. Grant declared Christmas a legal holiday on June 28, 1870, and the day celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ. We should not forget the true meaning of Thanksgiving or Christmas. By the last quarter of the 19th century, Americans eagerly decorated trees, caroled, baked delicious treats and shopped during the Christmas season. Since that time, materialism, the media, advertising and mass marketing have changed Christmas forever.
The holyday season is not just about giving gifts, going shopping or taking vacations. Of course, these things go hand in hand with the holidays, but the real importance of this time of year is appreciating what we have: our lives, our significant others, our children, our parents, our friends, our health, our job and our country — the greatest in the world. Today, I want to wish everyone a happy Thanksgiving, a happy Hanukkah and a very merry Christmas.
Holiday prayer: “May the Lord bless you and keep you. May the Lord make his face shine upon you and He be gracious to you. May the Lord lift up His countenance upon you and give you peace.”
How can I contact a chaplain? Chaplains are available at their unit of assignment, or by calling the Psychological Services Bureau at (213) 738-3500.