There is a thing going around Facebook that speaks of wanting nothing for Christmas except for the world to go back to normal. Those words strike deep into our being, especially this week as we prepare for a very different Thanksgiving celebration. Those Norman Rockwell images come to mind. Generations of family and friends gathered around a table spread with food. A football game in the other room. Laughter, conversation, hugs and just being with those who we love. Perhaps no other holiday so holds the images of the bounty of life: both in food for the heart and soul as well as the full belly.
This year, though, will be different. This year we show our deepest love by staying distant from those who we love. Thanksgiving this year means a smaller turkey shared just with those with whom we have spent these last eight months. There will be football and zoom or other calls. There will be delicious food and memories will be made. Perhaps this will be the Thanksgiving that we remember because it will be so different.
Thanksgiving is that day set apart for us to give Thanks for all the blessings of this life. This year it is easy to identify some of those blessings: our families, our friends who we will miss so much around our tables. For health and well-being: today, gifts that we carefully guard; for simple pleasures like running to the market to pick up a forgotten ingredient or a walk around the mall on a rainy day; for our church family, where we once may have felt awkward about exchanging the peace of God up-close and personal. Of course, the blessings abound. This Thanksgiving may be more about pausing and appreciating all that we do have. This Thanksgiving may be more about wanting less and holding fast to more.
I plan to begin my Thanksgiving with, of course, a walk with my pups in God’s amazing world. That walk will be followed by a prayerful Thanksgiving for my family and friends, especially those who I will not see on this day. I hope to spend a few more moments noticing the absence of the normal and the appreciation of what is here and present on this day. That prayer will most definitely include gratitude and praise for my God who, even amidst these strange days is ever-present each and every moment of my life.
The Rev. Sarah Nelson