It’s Thanksgiving Week here in the U.S. My Canadian neighbors celebrated in early October, which makes way more sense to me. Separate the Thanksgiving season and the Advent/Christmas seasons to give each their due importance. It bugs me to no end, and saddens me greatly, that Thanksgiving seems like the day to eat with family you are struggling to get along with, as a precursor to spending money like crazy and being rude to other drivers and shoppers on Black Friday. The beginning of the Christmas season for so many people begins with franticness to give gifts. While gift-giving can be a very meaningful experience – even spiritual – a gift acquired in this frenzy seems to bear some of the spirit in which it was gotten. I wish the impulse to spend and the importance of saving the economy didn’t overshadow Christmas either. I’m grateful for friends who, like me, avoid the Black Friday rush and pretend it’s not there. My heart goes out to those who have to work at all the shops who are pushing to make profits.
Another bother: this Black Friday business so often overshadows the deep importance of giving thanks – to one another, and to God. Do you thank each other on Thanksgiving? Do you list what you are grateful for – not just what you are most grateful for, but all the details? That would take a considerable amount of time and would be a wonderful tradition to share with small and large families. I’m grateful for families who gather and are excited and glad to see one another.
This year, as in many years past, it will be only my husband and I celebrating Thanksgiving with a feast. Our families are far-flung across many states with very little money for gathering to be with one another. Many times through the years we have been the guest of dear friends, and vicariously shared in family togetherness as strays at the table. Which is a wonderful image of communion that I took with me as a pastor to the communion table as I asked God to bless the elements and offered them for the gathered community to share. All are welcome at this table – every single person. Even strays. Even those separated from family. I’m grateful for the opportunity to be the face of this welcome, and look forward to offering it again in the future.
Though I’ve mentioned some things I feel grateful for, I’m struggling with gratitude this season. I wonder if it’s because I’m struggling with positive feelings particularly after last week’s bout of anxiety. I’m trying to keep my mood stable, which means keeping to a routine and staying active (and of course taking my meds). I feel most comfortable emotionally trying to stay in the middle rather than trying to push toward positive feelings. I will try to be grateful this week and will try to list and feel gratitude for all the blessings I have. But truly, I’m not feeling it. I intellectually get that I should be grateful and can see some blessings, just like I intellectually get “faith” and wish I had some. But I’m not feeling it.