Memories of past Thanksgivings flood my mind and it occurs to me that this holiday has always centered around abundance. Piles of pumpkins, squash, and canned goods lined shelves of the “harvest home” display in my childhood church. The food items were delivered after the Thanksgiving Eve service to needy families in the community, so that everyone had a full belly on this special day.

In our home, savory flavors of the roasting turkey filled every nook and cranny as my mother busied herself with basting the bird, preparing veggies, making homemade Parker House rolls, and setting out pickles and apple butter and her tasty cranberry-orange relish. We kids helped with small chores, my favorite being to set the table in the dining room with beautiful china and freshly polished silver that made an appearance on special occasions.

Later as a mother myself, I kept the tradition of preparing a delicious feast and sharing warm fellowship around a festive table. There was always a special place for Grandma and Grandpa and plenty of room at the table to host other family members. The more the merrier! Adding to the excitement was the traditional football game between rival high schools on Thanksgiving morning.

Abundance was everywhere, from the crowds of people cheering at the game, to the array of delicious food on our feast table and, most special of all, the hugs and laughter and stories that filled our day together.

Thanksgiving 2020 is strikingly different! Many families are hungry and wondering when their next paycheck will arrive. Following guidance to stay home and help keep everyone safe, I’ll enjoy the memories of years gone by and celebrate quietly. A few favorite foods—my mother’s crab bisque recipe, red cabbage slaw as a reminder of gifts of the earth, homemade foccacia bread, and spinach salad garnished with candied walnuts and crisp apple slivers—will provide nourishment. The rest is yet to unfold and that is just fine!

My morning reading on gratitude reminds me that as Christians we give thanks at all times, not just during times of abundance. Perhaps this is one of the lessons of Thanksgiving 2020. A scripture on the topic in Habukkuh 3: 17 – 18 reads as follows:

” Though the fig tree does not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail, and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold, and there be no herd in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will have joy in the God of my salvation. God, the Lord, is my strength.”

This is it! Thanksgiving is about a loving and caring God, not about the abundance we see around us but rather the faith we have in His love, the joy He provides, and His strength. For this we can be always grateful.

In that spirit, I wish for you a safe and joyful Thanksgiving, like none other. And now, I better go start that foccacia bread!

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