Thanksgiving is a time of remembrance. A time to give thanks for what we have. A time to spend with family and friends. It is one of my most favorite holidays, because we are more intentional in our Thanksgiving and thoughtfulness toward each other. We talk more with our kids about being thankful and grateful for what we have and not focusing on things we don’t have.
But this year will be a little different, at least for me. This year my heart is heavy. Heavy with grief for longtime friends, new friends and some I’ve only known through the internet. While we experience the first Thanksgiving with our newest addition, many will be experiencing some firsts of their own.
Their first Thanksgiving without their spouse.
Their first Thanksgiving without their father or mother.
Their first Thanksgiving without a dear friend who felt like family.
Their first Thanksgiving without their brother, sister, son, daughter…grandchild.
Their first Thanksgiving with a sick child battling Cancer.
Their first Thanksgiving away from family.
It breaks my heart to think of all the emotions they will be experiencing this year, as I know them all too well. Thirteen years ago I experienced my first Thanksgiving without my grandpa and four years ago the first one without my Dad. My heart still longs to see, hear and feel them both near me, but it has made me all the more aware of those around me now.
Three and a half years ago my husband and I followed a call from the Lord to move to Indiana for a ministry position. The first two years, we went home for Thanksgiving, but last year we stayed here. While we enjoyed our time with just the kids and then decorating our tree and getting the house ready for Christmas, a part of me missed and longed for days of old when our family was all together. It can be lonely when you’re away from family and all you’ve known for the holidays.
So this year, while I am enjoying Thanksgiving with friends and family, I will also be remembering those who are having their first without. I challenge you to take the time to enjoy your family and friends in the present and not wish on things you don’t have or things you want. Treasure the time you have with those around you – today, for tomorrow is not guaranteed.