Here they come…. the holidays…..Thanksgiving is the first important moment of the holiday season, and even for those who try to avoid holidays, we are reminded of the busy, crazy days ahead, and holidays are not always easy. They are so often bittersweet for so many of us. We are not only grateful for the friends and family at our table, but also aware of those who are no longer there and sorely missed. In our family, my late son Nick, and my ex-husband and children’s father, who passed away two years ago. Even with a crowded table, we feel their absence. And my three oldest children no longer join us for holidays, and either spend them with their in laws, family in other cities, or in their own homes establishing traditions of their own. So whereas once, there were 9 children at our table, their father even long after we divorced, as we remained very close, now I spend thanksgiving with my five youngest children—–a huge blessing to be sure, but half the number at our table only a few years ago. It is a change, and makes Thanksgiving bittersweet.
For many, holidays are spent alone, without family, or among friends, or in aching solitude. The holidays often point out what we don’t have in our lives. And there are many ways to spend a holiday like Thanksgiving. For many, serving others less fortunate takes the sting out of their loneliness as they forget themselves and give to others. For those without relatives to spend the holiday with, we form a family made up of friends (who are sometimes easier to get along with than our relatives, and even more fun!!). And for many, the holidays are a challenge that is hard to face. We all spend the holidays differently, and it helps to remember what we are grateful for.
I was reminded of two things tonight. A saying that meant a lot to me a long time ago, before I had my family. “God places the solitary in families”—-sometimes in other families, if we don’t have one of our own. And a friend reminded me at one time that Jesus fed thousands with ‘fragments’ of fishes—not even whole fishes, but fragments. Sometimes all we have are fragments of what we wish we had. But those little bits and pieces feed us better than we expect. Sometimes we need to be grateful for the fragments, until life gives us more.
Thanksgiving is a holiday about gratitude and friendship, about reaching out, and embracing others, and being grateful for the good in our lives. I hope that your holiday is peaceful and gentle, warm and loving, and that you are not alone on this holiday. And I hope that there is much in your life to be thankful for. I am grateful for you, my faithful friends…. for my family…. and the good times that we share. May your Thanksgiving holiday be blessed,