by Chris Koellhoffer, IHM November 22, 2020
It’s not only a difference in the verb–saying, praying, giving, or offering our thanks—but a difference of purpose. This Thanksgiving my family, like so many others, will be standing our thanks. Though our hearts are longing to gather at the site that became my parents’ home in their final years, this year my sisters, brothers, relatives, friends and I will all be standing apart, staying in our respective houses, condos, or apartments for the holiday.
We may attempt to replicate the recipe for Mom’s spoonbread or Grandma’s sausage stuffing wherever we are. We may decorate our own tables, trying to rival the inspiration and artistry my sister always brought to that task. We may try to carve a turkey with the expertise and sure hand of my brother-in-law. We may compose a personal, creative Grace before Meals like the one I usually offered as we gathered. But the day will not be the same. And that’s exactly the point, isn’t it?
As we look around our tables wherever we are, we’ll be missing the usual physical closeness to familiar beloved faces. We’ll be standing our thanks, standing in our gratitude miles away—for some of us, states away–from family and friends. And that will be the profound act of love we offer one another this Thanksgiving holiday.
We range in age from twelve months to wisdom years. We have our share of elders, though I still can’t believe I’m considered one of them. We count among our relatives precious loved ones with compromised health issues. So for us, the decision was straightforward: we simply have chosen not to take the chance that COVID-19 might be an invisible, uninvited guest at the table.
I ache every time I realize that I haven’t seen any of these beloved ones since Christmas 2019. Christmas! And I miss them, miss them more and more as I try to hold them tightly while the calendar turns.
As we deliberately keep our distance from one another, we’ll be saying, in effect,
I love you, I care for you, I long to sit down beside you at the Thanksgiving table.
I long to hear your stories or laugh over the latest exploits of the little ones.
I long to enjoy those once-a-year side dishes rich with tradition and full of memories.
I long to catch your eye and see you smile across the table.
Read my absence as a sign that I hope to be sitting beside you for many Thanksgivings to come.
Wherever and however we may celebrate the holiday in 2020, may we be safe, may we and our loved ones stay well, may our list of reasons to give thanks grow longer and deeper.
Know that you are ever in my grateful heart as you follow Mining the Now.
Thank you, and Happy Thanksgiving!
Sit in stillness with the Holy One.
Spend time holding in your heart your own personal litany of gratitude.
Savor and name the gifts for which you’re most grateful.
Tell the Holy One why you especially cherish these.
Offer a profound bow of reverence and gratitude.
Featured Image: Christo Doulou, Unsplash
Please hold in your prayer those who will be part of an all-day virtual retreat, “Entering the Advent Rhythms,” I’ll be offering through St. Cyril Spiritual Center, Danville, PA, on December 5. Thank you.
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