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‘Tis the Season for Smiles, Appreciation, Fun and Thanksgiving
By Dian Moore

Mark your calendars everyone! October is full of celebration and recognition, smiles and fun.

In the United States, apples, kind acts, appreciation and making a difference abound. Worldwide celebrations concentrate on fun and smiles and the Jewish Festival of Booths (Sukkot). Germany and Canada give thanks for the harvest. Argentina and India honor their nations’ Mothers, while Australians recognize their country’s workers.

National Clergy Appreciation Month began in 1993 in the U.S. to recognize ministers on the second Sunday of October. Congregations around the world might want to start their own Clergy Appreciation time.

Consider the following ideas to show pastors everywhere how much they are appreciated. For more, check out the Clergy Appreciation Month Planning guide sponsored by Parsonage.org at www.family.org/pastor/pdf/cam.pdf.
  • Handwritten notes of appreciation gathered into a book
  • Gift certificates
  • Movie Tickets (remember the pastor’s family)
  • Take turns preparing a meal
  • Clean their house
  • Write an article for the local paper
  • Gift Basket filled with the latest Christian fiction, favorite snack, favorite beverage
  • A day off!
  • Make a special video with individual congregation members stating something special about the pastor
  • Collect funds to purchase Season Tickets to the pastor’s personal favorite sport, opera or other pastime.
  • Buy a subscription to his/her favorite magazine
  • Design a special T-shirt, tote bag, ball hat, etc., just for your pastor
  • Surprise the pastor and his family by surrounding their home with linked hands and sing and pray for them.
  • Use your skills – God’s gift to you – to honor the pastor and his family, e.g. sewing, car repair, cooking, etc.
  • Photograph the congregation and the pastor in action, make a scrapbook Hospitality – plan a special event, Roast, etc.
  • Choir – make a CD for the pastor of his favorite hymns (hint: ask his spouse, children or prayer partners)
  • Organize a group of prayer warriors who concentrate on the pastor and his needs
  • Baby-sit
  • Mow grass
  • Do some landscaping.
The Jewish holiday, Sukkot, or Festival of Booths, begins at sundown on September 29, 2004, five days after Yom Kippur. Sukkot is a time of celebration and thanksgiving; quite a drastic change from the observances during the more somber Yom Kippur.

The festival lasts seven days and no work is permitted during the first two days. Sukkot means "booths" and refers to the temporary shelters Jews lived in when they wandered the desert for 40 years. To commemorate that period, Jewish families build and live in temporary shelters called sukkahs during the seven days. Some families only eat meals in their sukkah, while others may also sleep in them. Other names referring to Sukkot are "The Feast of Tabernacles" and "The Season of Our Rejoicing."

To learn more about the history of Sukkot, building your own sukkah and other traditions followed during this season, visit www.jewfaq.org.

International Frugal Fun Day is the first Saturday of every October. A website, www.frugalfun.com has been established to guide participants in finding inexpensive ways to have fun.

October 3, 2004, is World Smile Day – "Do an act of kindness. Help someone smile." www.worldsmileday.com

In Canada, Thanksgiving is celebrated on the second Monday in October. The Country sets aside the day as a time of general Thanksgiving to Almighty God for the provision of a bountiful harvest.

October 19 is Sunday School Teacher Appreciation Day. For ideas on how to honor your special Teacher, visit www.mysundayschoolteacher.com.

Argentina celebrates Mother's Day on the third Sunday in October, while Hindus in India celebrate Mother's Day with a ten-day festival in early October.

The week of October 24-30, 2004 is set aside for Pastoral Care recognition around the world. The theme for 2004 is "Imagining Peace." Pastoral Care Week provides an opportunity for chaplains and pastoral care providers to share their story and to celebrate their various ministries. Visit www.pastoralcareweek.org for press releases, proclamations, prayers and ideas.

The 4th Saturday of every October is Make a Difference Day. Across the United States, individuals and groups join together and offer their services to a person, community, business or other group, in order to make a difference. www.makeadifference.org.

Residents of Germany participate in Erntedank, a time of thanksgiving for the year’s agricultural yield, usually on the last Sunday of October. Participants gather crops, bread and canned goods and bring them to church and place them by the altar. Thanks are offered to God for providing food. Sometimes after the Erntedank church service the food gathered is then distributed to those in need.

Australia observes Labour Day, originally called the Eight-Hour Day, in October. Labour Day recognizes the achievements of organized labour on behalf of the worker to bring about the 8-hour day in the late 1850’s. Labour Day is acknowledged on different days in October throughout Australia; its states did not all begin eight-hour workdays at the same time. Interestingly, some buildings bear carved numerals 888 as a reminder that eight hours should be for work, eight hours for sleep and eight hours for recreation.

October is also National Apple Month. Karen Treharne has provided a way to have fun with apples in her article, "Apple Baskets for Everyone!"

Finally, October is probably best known for Halloween, one of the world’s oldest and most controversial holidays. Each year, Christian parents are faced with the decision of whether or not to let their children participate in traditional Halloween activities. Can Christians participate in Halloween without compromising their faith? Yes, they can. Read "Missionary Moment" by Marina Rojas for clever ways to remain God’s child and possibly open the gates to heaven for another soul.

And for Christians wondering where to find treats and gifts that will deliver the Good News of Jesus Christ, visit Christian Tools of Affirmation www.ctainc.com and click on "Halloween Alternatives" for ideas and products.
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