As an American in the UK, I’ve now spent a significant number of Thanksgivings out of my home country. It’s a day where I feel the cost of living here, being separated from family and friends. But we celebrate the day, and work hard to make memories for our children. They feel special for they get to miss school when all their friends have to go, and this time not for a scary medical appointment, but to go to St. Paul’s Cathedral for the annual Thanksgiving service, a quick lunch at Starbucks, and then home to prepare the food. And at the end of the day (we have to eat around 6pm because it’s just a normal day for many of our guests), we carve the turkey and sup together, enjoying our feast of food and good conversation.
But for many people, holidays such as Thanksgiving don’t hold the glossy-magazine image of loving family and friends surrounding a table heaving with tasty food. There might be material abundance but emotional scarcity. Feelings of loneliness and sadness. Seeing the chair that a loved one should be occupying, but which now sits empty. The family feud that hasn’t healed. The loss of job that weighs on the mind and heart.
When we feel pain and loss, it can be awfully hard to be thankful. And yet I’ve found that if I ask God to help me give thanks, he answers that plea. I feel a glimmer of hope; I experience a rush of love; I am overcome with peace.
Whatever your situation, may you know joy and love this Thanksgiving.