The Thanksgiving holiday(s) will be here soon, with their usual invitations for hearty fellowship, feasting and shopping. But not this year. COVID has called into question any celebrations that involve perhaps-risky activities. This year many of us will observe this holiday season in unusual ways. We may feel that if we can’t do what we’ve always done, something must be wrong. That we don’t really have much to be thankful for.
But what if we put aside previous notions of “celebration”, and instead thought how to observe these times with thanks? How might that look? How might that feel? What might we see?
This year, Chris and I will spend our Thanksgiving Day like we did in the first years of our marriage—no family close at hand, and just the two of us. A special dinner menu on a modest scale. Phone conversations with dear ones far away. Time outdoors, enjoying the beauties of the natural world in fall garb. Remembering the elements of our life that are remarkable, undeserved blessings of all kinds. Rejoicing in simple gifts, small things not usually observed.
During Thanksgiving holidays this year, a much larger percentage of our nation will lack basic necessities of life. A shrinking economy and residual bitterness regarding the political situation may push aside gratitude in many hearts. This suggests that part of this year’s Thanksgiving observance might be to bring joy or satisfaction to people who are poor, sick or despairing.
Grateful observation is one way to dig deeper into what’s really happening, what’s really important, what’s really significant for the future. Looking carefully at our lives, getting ready for Advent’s invitations to repentance and readiness. Peering deeply into the source of our well-being—God’s gracious love for us—and being glad for that gift.