It has been more than 25 years since that Thanksgiving meal that I made for my family. Although I remain single with no children of my own, I adore the people who know me as daughter, sister, niece, aunt, and cousin and who care for me most. I have welcomed new family members, some of whom are enthusiastic about my meals, and others who partake politely when the results are less than desired. My brilliant, lovely six-year-old niece claims to love the spaghetti dishes that I have made for her since she was a toddler, and she sometimes acts as my kitchen helper with her keen sense of smell, especially for the basil I grow that she loves to water and pick!
I have also lost cherished relatives, an unfortunate effect of getting older. My grandmother’s house was my second home, and often I close my eyes and feel transported to her tiny, overheated kitchen—the wonderful aromas of roasted turkey and simmering vegetables filling the house. I know that I will never make anything as delicious as the meals she served or as delightful as the birthday cakes she baked and decorated for my brothers and me, but I will never cease striving to be the fabulous cook and devoted Christian she was. My memories of her, and all of my departed loved ones, are precious gifts for which I will be endlessly grateful.
I’ve spent too few holidays serving Thanksgiving dinner to those who are less fortunate than I am, and other holidays I have marked quietly and alone. No matter the circumstance or company, whether I am preparing or enjoying a feast or having a small, prepackaged meal, I always take time to think about the blessings I have received and acknowledge the divine goodness of our Lord as the source of those gifts.
It’s important to acknowledge goodness in a world that has changed so much since 1997. The amount of suffering experienced worldwide is staggering, and the resources to meet the needs of far too many individuals are in short supply everywhere. When I find myself worried about the state of our troubled earthly home, I recall this truth my wise and beautiful mother—another steadfast Christian whom I strive to emulate, the best mother and friend a woman could ask for—has shared with me often. Without despair, there would be no need for hope. Without strife and conflict, there would be no motivation to achieve peace. Without suffering, there would be no need for Christ. The divine goodness displayed in the volunteers and workers who serve those in need, in the heroic first responders who rescue those in peril, and in the creators and healers who innovate to help everyone is proof that God has never left us.
So this Thanksgiving, I will remember every good thing and every challenge I faced this year. Currently, I have no plans for the day, no menu or desserts in mind to prepare.
I look forward to spending the day with my family and rereading Colossians 3, “ giving thanks to God the Father.”
I hope that everyone will have the happiest holiday, enjoying the day with the ones they love most.