Today in America, we celebrate Thanksgiving. For a lot of people, this holiday can be very controversial. Historically, it is a reminder of land and lives that were taken. It can also be a reminder here in the present of people who are missing from around the table, through loss or estrangement. It can be a contentious holiday as people avoid certain topics, walking on eggshells to try to keep the peace.
But it’s also a day set aside to celebrate gratitude. It’s a bittersweet concoction of seeking out the joy and gifts in your life that follow so closely the struggles and pain. It’s searching for the presence of God in the stillness of sorrow.
Personally, Thanksgiving is a time of hard memories. It is surrounded by lost dreams. My first daughter was stillborn four years ago the day before Thanksgiving. My second daughter was actually supposed to be born the day before Thanksgiving two years ago, but was stillborn a few months before her impending arrival.
And this Thanksgiving. I’m holding a miracle of a son in my arms, overwhelmed with gratitude, but also with loss and wonder at what it might have been like if my daughters were alive. How chaotic and loud would my home be? Would my daughters play with my son as I cook dinner? How different would our Christmas card look?
It’s okay to feel both gratitude and heartache this holiday. If you need permission to feel so, then I’m giving it to you right now. It doesn’t have to be either/or. It can be both/and. And if you are only feeling one or the other, that’s okay too. Gratitude (much like love on Valentine’s day) doesn’t have to be forced into one day a year.
With all of that said, I hope you find some rest, eat good food, and have memorable and positive conversation around the table this holiday. I am so grateful for all of you in this wonderful community!