Instead of gathering in person with siblings this year for Thanksgiving, we’ll make alternate arrangements to be present with each other. We’ll probably use FaceTime or Skype, or Zoom, or another form of media to make our familial love visible to each other. It won’t be the same, of course, as in the past, but we are making the choice to find a creative way to be there for each other. And I plan to make my not-very-famous cranberry apple crisp, taking some for myself and taking the rest to the police officers working that day.
With or without a pandemic, no Thanksgiving is ever the same as the past Thanksgiving. Someone expected can’t come. A family member has to work. You have to work, or have the flu.A new baby or an in-law changes the dynamics. Regardless of the nature of the change, with changes comes loss and grief.
Grief is a way of processing change, of feeling the feels that come from having something go away – whether it’s a pet, a holiday tradition, a job, or a treasured family member. We grieve what we have lost, and we also grieve the future we expected. Letting go is hard work, letting go is necessary work, and letting go can release us to find new beauty in life. As Sue Washburn showed on her facebook page, with a gorgeous picture of fall foliage, there is tremendous beauty in the process that a tree goes through as it prepares for the winter: the gorgeous colors of the leaves, and the graceful way those leaves flutter to the ground, and then the stark outline of the tree against the sky.
We are all grieving as we anticipate Thanksgiving 2020. It’s time to let go of what we expected Thanksgiving 2020 to be, and make the conscious choices to create some beauty for the day. Making a list of 2020 things for which to be grateful would keep you busy until November 26th. Thinking of 20 ways to make your love real to those who will be physically separate from you to on the day. Or make your favorite Thanksgiving dish and either freeze it until you can eat it with those you’re missing or give it to someone who has to work that day.
If we spend our energy focusing on what we’ve lost, we lose the opportunity to let go as gracefully as the leaves of a tree, and instead rob ourselves of the chance to find new ways to share joy and be emotionally present even as we are physically distant.
It’s easier said than done. But naming our grief takes away some of it’s toxicity as we acknowledge our loss and the pain of what we’ll be missing. We name it, claim it., then release it, with God’s help. If we start asking God to help us release what might have been, then by November 26th, then the Spirit might help us to create what might be a very meaningful, love-filled day for which we’ll give thanks!
Grace and peace to you!