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The Heart of Thanksgiving: Sunday musings…11/29/2020

Sunday musings…11/29/2020

“This is my family. It’s little and broken, but still good. Yah, still good.” –Stitch

My professional buddy Mark sent a WhatsApp chat to our little group this morning, a picture of his family reunited after many, many weeks apart. It began with “After social distancing on steroids”, very much a universal sentiment in the days leading up to Thanksgiving, don’t you think? It certainly was for us. 

We had it going both ways in our little family. One child distanced out of town, imposing guidelines on everyone so that they could make it home. They were rewarded with a plane containing only two other passengers and a nearly empty airport on both ends of the trip. Sadly, our gathering with another child was delayed because of the contact of a contact. Despite everyone in the household playing by the rules a chance encounter at work by a contact’s contact forced everyone to wait on a test result (which blessedly came back negative). My Mom self-quarantined for 10 days so that she could enter my brother’s bubble. 

There’s nothing special about any of these stories, just that they are mine. Both of you reading my stuff did the same, and your people did, too. The “why” is really quite simple: Thanksgiving is about family. Not the turkey and the fixin’s. Not the annual Thanksgiving Day high school football grudge match played every year since 1920. Just family, and if you’re lucky, being with your family or what stands in for family (like Stitch). There are no gifts involved, no commerce or commercialism. The gift you give is in the effort you make to be present with and for family.

Thanksgiving is when you choose to be together. Hardships are understood and forgiven. Warmth is the abiding feeling, at least after you come home from that football game. The only thing burning is the fire in the hearth, and perhaps the garage where your uncle was frying a turkey. Burning issues are set aside for another time. Heat in the room comes from the blanket that’s been on your grandmother’s couch since you were a toddler. 

At least once on Thanksgiving you find yourself in a quiet place and you just sit and watch. And listen. You close your eyes for a moment and you feel 10, 20, maybe 50 years younger. Everyone is there. Everyone from forever. There’s your Gramp finishing the crossword puzzle. Mom is finishing the dishes while your Gram puts away the stuffing. Grampa is putting an old album on the record player. Grammy is passing out pieces of pie. A crowd is gathered around the pot where your brother is making turkey soup, the annual battle over how much to put into the soup vs. leave out for sandwiches is in its full glory. Cards are snapping off the deck, each new log explodes as it hits the fire, Dad is snoring. It’s every year, right there in this year. You open your eyes and just for a moment you can still see them all. 

Thanksgiving is that one time each year where you gather family together, in person or in spirit, and celebrate that you have each other. All families are little in more ways than not, even if they have many members. Likewise, all families are a little bit broken in some way at some times. But for the most part Stitch is right, all families are still good. Thanksgiving is when we remember that. When we give thanks for that.  Being together is wonderful if it’s possible, but this year teaches us that Thanksgiving is not at a football game or on a table. 

This year and every year Thanksgiving lives in our hearts. 

I’ll see you next week…

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