This week I’ll be taking the turkey out of my freezer to thaw. I always try to do this earlier than recommended so as not to repeat the great disaster that was Thanksgiving 2011 when I discovered a still frozen turkey in the fridge, leaving our family to dine on a holiday meal of side dishes and no bird.
Thankfully, there were only three of us around that table that year, one of whom has no lasting memory of my mommy disaster due to his being only two at the time.
Yet this upcoming holiday holds its own shares of disappointment for that kiddo, now a when-did-he-get-so-big six year old. With the conclusion of Halloween his sights are firmly set on the next big event and what it means — or what he’s told it means by his friends, his teachers, and everything he sees and hears from the world around him.
Family. Friends. Guests. Visitors. YAY!
Except, we have none of those at Thanksgiving, and haven’t for the past few years.
He asks me who is visiting, and when I tell him no one, his face drops. It’s not his usual pout when things don’t go his way. He is genuinely sad and forlorn. He doesn’t understand when I try to explain it will all be okay. He insists this is a day when we get together with friends and family and tell them thanks. So without the friends and family, what’s the point?
Now, I admit I have to shove my own introverted tendencies aside a bit to understand his dismay, as I find there are actually a few perks to keeping Thanksgiving small and immediate-family-only. But I get his confusion. What is Thanksgiving if the house doesn’t resemble what everyone says it should? How is this at all a special day or a holiday or anything? How can we even call it Thanksgiving if it’s just the five of us — the same ol’ stinky people we eat with every night?
And I’m sure he’s not alone — in either this misunderstanding or his disappointment.
This is, after all, a secular holiday in which people of many cultures and backgrounds and traditions get together to enjoy companionship, delicious food, and a warm-fuzzy feeling of being grateful for whatever makes us happy. It means parades and turkey and football and a day (or two) off from work.
And it certainly can (and often does) mean all of that for us Christians, as well. Yet it should be about more for us, shouldn’t it? Yes, it is a day in which we can enjoy the company of neighbors whom we don’t see often, but more so it’s a day in which we can take an extra moment to remember from whom our blessings come and to whom our thanks is due.
For we do not find our value in how many seats are filled at our table — be it one or twenty — and we do not weigh our blessings by how many necks we hug at the door that day. Whether we are alone this holiday, or we are with our little family, or we have a house bursting with visitors, our thanks is given not based on the size of our gathering, but because of the grace of our God who provides all for us.
We may be lonely. We may be disappointed. We may find it all a bit too quiet for our liking. But we are never truly alone. For we are one in the body of Christ, each forgiven, each redeemed, each made new — and for that there can be no disappointment, only great thanks.