Thanksgiving has, for most of my life, been a difficult holiday. Growing up, the tensions and turmoil in my home didn’t take a break when the holidays rolled around. In fact, they often got worse. Thanksgiving, being an occasion that is grounded in family rather than religion, revealed how unlike a family we were. When I got older, I spent many Thanksgivings alone, sometimes volunteering to help feed the homeless. I was always glad when the day ended, marking it off as a sad day I didn’t have to think about for another year.

That changed when some dear friends started  including me in their Thanksgiving, which is a large and welcoming event — family and friends crowding into their home, children running around, a dog or two hoping someone would drop food on the floor. For the first time in my life, I looked forward to the holiday, and for a number of years now I have felt blessed to be part of a gathering that felt like the Thanksgivings I’d heard about but hadn’t experienced before. Obviously, we won’t be getting together this year.

There is plenty of sadness to go around this Thanksgiving. Whether one is alone, as I will be, or only with their immediate family, as many will be, or whether there will be the weight of grief over loved ones who have died from Covid, no one’s holiday will be the same. It seems to me that now more than ever the idea of gratitude, of finding things to be thankful for, is a lifeline we all need to grab onto. For people who have lost family members or friends to this virus, it can feel like gratitude is a leaf blown about by the wind that can never be caught. But the reason your grief is so deep is that your love was deep. That is something to be thankful for — that your heart was bold enough to give itself over to love, that in the brief time we are here on this earth your life was entwined with another. I don’t believe death ends a relationship, and even when loss feels unbearable, gratitude can move into the empty places right beside  tears.

Many of us have changed during this pandemic, learned valuable lessons, rethought relationships and old patterns. I know I’ve learned and grown during these many months. There are relationships in my life that have deepened, become more grounded and solid. There are others that I had to back up from because they were out of balance — they depended on me always reaching out, accepting that the other person would never reach out to me. They hinged on an old paradigm of “I’m not worthy.” Whenever we let go of dark messages from the past we grow into who we are meant to be, and that is definitely something to be grateful for.

I’m thankful that we will now have a president who shows compassion and empathy, who cares for the country and its citizens and won’t embarrass  us and endanger us. These are scary times, and they are dark times, with a virus raging across the country, with people going hungry and losing their homes. It can feel like gratitude is just a word on a Hallmark card. But think about the hospital workers who haven’t stopped since this pandemic began. Think of the volunteers at food banks and first responders taking people to hospitals who they know might not make it — again and again. Gratitude has to be our lifeline. If it isn’t, we will lose ourselves in the sadness and loss of these times. This might be the most important Thanksgiving of our lives, if we remember to pause and reflect on what there is to be thankful for. If  we reach past our tears and our grief and remember that there are other parts of the story. There is love and support and a dream that next year will be different. There is always a promised land even when it seems lost in the shadows.


2 Responses to THANKSGIVING 2020

  1. Ken W Brown says:

    The last paragraph is so moving, thanks.

  2. Sue Brett Miller says:

    So Beautiful Patti. Sending tight hugs from afar. Sharing now. Thank you. Stay well.

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