And for this reason, we too give thanks to God unceasingly. (1 Thessalonians 2: 13)
Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday of the year. Don’t get me wrong, Easter and Christmas celebrated according to our faith are definitely near the top of my list, but in the worldly sense of holidays, Thanksgiving is #1 for me.
Growing up we always gathered for the traditional Thanksgiving meal, but before that, we watched the Macy’s parade on TV and afterwards, we played board games, enjoyed each other’s company, put the busyness of life on hold and spent time recognizing all we had for which to be thankful. Technically, for my family, the holiday began the day before as we gathered to make pies and plan the order of what needed to be cooked and when. These were the moments that I looked forward to all year long.
Growing up in a large family was special to me, as it seemed that everyone was always going in a hundred different directions, but on this one day all that didn’t matter, and we were together. Of course, things change as you grow older; families expand, loved ones move away. Sometimes the craziness of the soon arriving gift shopping season tries to take that day of peace away with the extraordinary number of reminders regarding how many weeks and days are left before Christmas shopping needs to be done. These last few years have left me feeling disappointed and missing the Thanksgivings of old.
This year I have been thinking, praying, and planning how I might help my daughter experience Thanksgiving — a Thanksgiving like the ones I love and remember. I thought about taking her to NYC to see the Macy’s parade in person, like my older sisters did for me and my sister, the two youngest in the family. I thought about staying home from the family Thanksgiving and trying to have dinner here with my close friends and chosen family. Still there is an aching for what once was.
I began to wonder if, in my mind, I had too much expectation about what Thanksgiving should or shouldn’t be and if that was what was causing me distress about the upcoming holiday. After all, I am a major planning and fixing kind of person. I am always seeking ways to make things work better, run more smoothly, be more enjoyable…. Maybe the problem I am having is that I need to let go and learn how to just be, instead of going anywhere or doing anything. Maybe….
I am not sure if this adjustment of attitude and focus will change the way I feel this year about Thanksgiving. I am not sure if the day will be more enjoyable and peaceful or not. What I am sure of is this: that God is good. He loves us incredibly — even more than we could ever imagine — and we are very blessed. To among other things, be celebrating another Thanksgiving with my dad, which is something we were not sure we would have the opportunity to do just a few short months ago, is something for which I am very grateful. That we have food to eat, a place to gather, and family to spend time with are all things for which there is a need to give thanks.
Heavenly Father, loving, gentle, merciful Father. Thank you for all the blessings you pour out upon us, for the chances you give us each and every day to feel your love and to share that love with the world so much in need of you. Thank you for the generosity with which you give to all your children. We pray for those who don’t have all that they need to survive, knowing that you will answer our prayers and provide for those we will never even know about through them. Please allow our hearts to be full to overflowing with gratitude and thanksgiving for your perfect love. We ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen.