My Thanksgiving Tradition As One of Jehovah's Witnesses

by TMS 9 Replies latest watchtower beliefs

  • TMS

    The JW prohibition of celebrating holidays includes the American celebration of Thanksgiving, a sort of innocuous harvest festival, where thanks is given for the year's blessings. A typical family eats a large meal together, including turkey and all the trimmings. In recent decades, NFL football, always involving the Dallas Cowboys and Detroit Lions, has become part of the routine, as well as drinking beer.

    Every year or so, the "Awake!" would run an article denouncing Thanksgiving as "worldly,," sometimes making fun of the supposed original meal featuring the pilgrims and Native Americans.

    My extended family, almost entirely made up of JWs, actually celebrated Thanksgiving every year without admitting it.

    As my uncle Russ, a former Zone Servant, old old term for Circuit Overseer, would say every year: "Turkey is cheap and we have a day off, so why not get together for a meal?"

    My uncle Gene, who never set foot in a Kingdom Hall, after getting out of prison during World War II for not serving in the military, and his Catholic wife, Ann, were always the host family. Ann made a huge spread, including certain favorite dishes for several JW relatives.

    My anointed grandfather, Adolph, would be asked to say "grace" over the meal.

    After the meal, Uncle Gene would light up a cigar, while fending off any attempt by any of his guests to witness to him.

    I continued the tradition with my own family, sometimes eating turkey a day early to soothe out consciences.

    Our pretense of not celebrating Thanksgiving like everyone else was phony, but typical of the kind of rationalizations JWs make to get around organizational rules and beliefs.

  • Londo111

    My family also had some non-Thanksgiving Thanksgivings as well. The out was saying it wasn't Thanksgiving and they gave thanks every day.

  • millie210

    Raises hand. Count me in on the celebrating while claiming not to be "really" celebrating.

  • ab.ortega

    I know many JW families that make a big deal dinner with friends and family a day or two after the official date. Turkey and all the trimmings. We've done it ourselves. Last year we actually did it the day of and it was great. Delicious food and nice comforting weather.

  • steve2

    I almost always gave my JW mother flowers on Christmas Day (in front of my JW siblings) and I swear no-one batted an eyelid. Funny that we all happened to be at home for a special meal Christmas Day. Did I mention my sister made a to-die-for Christmas pudding sans the mistletoe and santa decorations of course? No Christmas tree or streamers - but we all tacitly colluded in the spirit of such a family get-together.

  • freddo

    Yup! UK here so not Thanksgiving but Xmas/New Year time.

    When myself as an elder (then) and two other male relatives as elders would descend upon the great JW Matriarch (My Aunt Doris) with our pioneer wives and our families often including a bethelite or two between Xmas and New Year to have what we jokingly called the "Not Xmas/Not New Year Party" at Auntie's/Mum's/Gran's house.

    No tree or paper hats of course but charades and games and TV and booze and good food was had by all.

  • Londo111

    When asked, I could never explain what was "pagan" about Thanksgiving or why it was "wrong".

  • undercover

    My in-laws celebrate Thanksgiving, complete with turkey and all the dressings, and joining in with non-JW family for the occasion. They just don't admit it.

    My family, a much more conservative branch of JWism, never came close to doing anything that could be construed as 'celebrating' anything worldly. We hid in the dark on Halloween. We laid up provisions and shuttered ourselves inside for the entire Thanksgiving weekend. Similar with Xmas. Pretended the other holidays didn't exist.

    So, it was quite the adjustment for me to visit my in-laws over Thanksgiving after getting married. They never admitted celebrating, and they never used the word 'Thanksgiving' yet we celebrated it just as hard as everyone else who wasn't a JW.

  • NikL

    My wife and I just got invited over for a turkey dinner with stuffing etc on Thursday the 24th by current active witnesses. They wanted to have a group over for dinner. LOL

    We are of course going. looking forward to some enjoyable association with our friends.

    I told my wife they better keep it on the down-low though. I am SURE there are some in our hall that would NOT approve.

  • NikL

    found this in 1976 Awake!

    What, then, is the modern-day Christian likely to conclude as he views this national holiday? Looking at many of the present practices, he may be reminded of Second Corinthians 6:14, where we read: “Do not become unevenly yoked with unbelievers. For what fellowship do righteousness and lawlessness have?”
    Naturally, many dedicated Christians will not be working secularly on that day. Some may choose to take advantage of this opportunity to enjoy fellowship with family and friends. Yet, what “spirit” will a Christian manifest? It is true that God created turkeys and other foods, so these are not in themselves objectionable. But undoubtedly one who is a true Christian will want to be careful not to stumble others.
    Consider what the apostle Paul says, as recorded in First Corinthians, chapter ten. He reasons that Christians should wisely avoid eating before others a perfectly acceptable food if doing so would stumble them. ‘Respect your brother’s conscience’ is the message.
    So on November 25, the declared “day of thanks” in 1976, personal decisions need to be made. Dedicated Christians certainly will not want to convey to others the idea that they believe in one-day-a-year gratitude. Really, should not all who profess Christianity encourage a spontaneous spirit of thanksgiving—from the heart—the year around?

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