When Thanksgiving Hurts
“Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift.” 2 Corinthians 9:15
It was my first Thanksgiving without two important people in my life. I’d lost my dad right after Christmas and my aunt the following fall.
With all the focus on family gatherings, their loss was hitting me hard. A few days prior, picking through a box of memorabilia, I came across a birthday card my aunt sent me, and I was flooded with memories of all the gifts, the funny phone calls, the love, now gone.
Thanksgiving felt almost haunted—surreal. While they’d never set foot in my current house, I pictured their faces as though they’d been there before. I could see my aunt and my dad, my Gram also, wrapping beef brisket in foil at the island in my kitchen and telling me all her old stories.
People I loved, gone.
We each cope with loss differently. Some take comfort in doing things as they’ve always been, preserving what’s lost in traditions and repetition.
I’d never really liked Thanksgiving much. I’m not a football fan, the focus on food and harvest felt silly, and “family fun” too easily escalated into drama.
But while driving to work one day, I read a sign that said, “Thanksgiving: The Most Spiritual Holiday.”
Really? Not Easter? Not Christmas?
I harrumphed and continued on. But the words stayed with me.
About that time, my social media feed blew up with people’s gratitude posts and thankfulness-selfies. Daily devotionals featured blessedness and appreciation.
I began to tune in to the message: Thanksgiving is not some generic holiday celebrating “family dinner” or “harvest.” It’s about acknowledging abundance and showing appreciation. It’s about counting your blessings and giving back, praising God and remaining humbled and honored instead of entitled and jaded.
The Bible urges us to thank God for all He’s given, good and not-so-good, and especially for the gift of His Son.
In good times and in bad, in loss and in abundance, God stands near and draws us close. He made us. He loves us.
Rest in that truth today.
Jessica Brodie is an award-winning journalist and a member of the Wholly Loved Ministryteam. She’s also an author who currently serves as the editor of the South Carolina United Methodist Advocate, the oldest newspaper in Methodism. She is the author of More Like Jesus: A Devotional Journey (2018) and editor of Stories of Racial Awakening: Narratives on Changed Hearts and Lives of South Carolina United Methodists (2018), both from her newspaper’s Advocate Press. She also writes contemporary women’s fiction, represented by Bob Hostetler of The Steve Laube Agency. Her novel The Memory Garden won the American Christian Fiction Writers’ 2018 Genesis Contest. She has a faith blog at JessicaBrodie.com.
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