A Thanksgiving to Remember

I spent Thanksgiving of 1992 in a sports bar, in an unfamiliar city far from home.

My baby lay in cardiac ICU recovering from open heart surgery. The only restaurant open that day was a sports bar next to a girlie club, so there my husband and I perched on stools, eating burgers and nursing our exhaustion before returning to the room where Ben lay entangled in tubes and wires attached to beeping machines.

I thought about where we should have been that day, of the platters of turkey, the women fussing in the kitchen over the gravy and mashed potatoes, the men gathered around the tv, arguing over the football game. Of our walks through the neighborhood in the twilight, hoping to make room for a slice of pie afterward. Of the warmth of this loud, affectionate group of distant relatives combining the traditional dishes of our Danish heritage with the more familiar American standbys.

I also thought of the friends who had made room in their lives and at their tables for our two little girls while we were away from them, wrapping them in their comfort and assurance that Mama and Boppy and baby brother would be home soon.

Many years have come and gone since that lonely Thanksgiving day, but circumstances this year have reminded me. This Thanksgiving will be similarly lonely for many of us.  Covid has stolen the life-giving grace of being with the ones we love. It has also given us the gift of appreciating those same people, as well as many others who escaped our notice before.

2020 has shown us how much we need each other. So many relationships that we took for granted have now become priceless. Hugs have changed from a casual greeting to a precious gift. Instead of a loose embrace and a quick pat, we cling.

This year we’ve seen medical personnel, teachers and even janitors in a new light. Our eyes and hearts have been opened to our interdependence in ways that only times like these can reveal.

In my state, Thanksgiving gatherings are banned this year. We may not have enough people around our table to cook a turkey, but there are always enough reasons to stop and give thanks. This year, we should be more grateful than ever before for the people we love.

Sometimes the loss of something precious creates a sweet poignancy that escapes us during ordinary times. That can be a good thing, if we let it.

We can harden our hearts and rail against Covid, or the government, or God. Or we can become aware of the love around us that we took for granted before. And in the awareness, let our gratitude run deep for the privilege of loving and being loved in this frightening and chaotic world.

We are on the cusp of Thanksgiving in America, and this year our hearts aren’t on food or football. Instead, they are on each other.

And that is something to be thankful for indeed.

3 thoughts on “A Thanksgiving to Remember

  1. That same Thanksgiving (1992) I had returned a couple months before from my missionary assignment to help my mom raise the grandchildren after a death in the family. Family relationships were at an all-time low (none of them Christians), and I was transitioning from a developing culture experience back to upper-middle class suburban America. Sometimes i forgot to answer the phone in English. God was faithful. I eventually adjusted, got a job with a local church sponsored organization that worked with “my” people, and the kids are grown up and doing okay. This year will be a solo Thanksgiving (the cat and I), but I continue to be thankful for how God has continued to encourage me through all the changes of this life, and the hope of the life to come. By the way I’m still working with “my” people through my church right down the street. He is truly always good. Enjoy Thanksgiving with your family, especially that very special son of yours!

    Like

  2. That same Thanksgiving (1992) I had returned a couple months before from my missionary assignment to help my mom raise the grandchildren after a death in the family. Family relationships were at an all-time low (none of them Christians), and I was transitioning from a developing culture experience back to upper-middle class suburban America. Sometimes i forgot to answer the phone in English. God was faithful. I eventually adjusted, got a job with a local church sponsored organization that worked with “my” people, and the kids are grown up and doing okay. This year will be a solo Thanksgiving (the cat and I), but I continue to be thankful for how God has continued to encourage me through all the changes of this life, and the hope of the life to come. By the way I’m still working with “my” people through my church right down the street. He is truly always good. Enjoy Thanksgiving with your family, especially that very special son of yours!

    Like

    • Its nice to be far enough along on this journey where we can look back down the road a ways, isn’t it? It gives perspective and hope. I wish both you and your cat a blessed and holy Thanksgiving.

      Like

Leave a Reply to Andrea Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s