One year I invited friends and neighbors to a “Practice Thanksgiving” the weekend before the big day. Each of these great cooks was to bring a dish to share from either a new recipe, too risky to serve without a trial run, or a favorite they knew they would not be able to enjoy wherever they were going and yet it was integral to their idea of Thanksgiving. It was also an opportunity for us to practice giving thanks for those we loved who were part of our lives.
As we tasted and offered tips for adjusting seasonings, we laughed and reminisced about this beloved holiday. Candidly, some also shared anxiety or dread as they anticipated – not the food to be served – but the people they would see. Emotions surrounding food at such events are often just a foil for the relationships we have with those who will be gathered and their expectations of us.
Will Thanksgiving be nourishing with an open-arms welcome, giving thanks for who you are, just as you are? Perhaps you will watch a bit of the parade, play or watch football then set out leftovers?
Or, will you need an extra antacid before facing an in-law, ex-, or the sibling who always treats you as if you were still nine? You may dread the questions and monologues and hope to be seated at the kids table.
A wise youth pastor once said “sometimes those who need our love the most are those who let us know in the most unloving ways.”
Take a deep breath. Say a quiet pray to give thanks for the blessings you have.
For those of you in town, start your day by coming to worship at 10:30 a.m. in the sanctuary. No need to take off your apron and you can wear your jeans. We will welcome you, just as you are. We will also serve the same simple meal Jesus and the church have been serving for over 2,000 years: bread and cup to fill you, renew you and send you out with the grace of God. We’ve been practicing saying thanks for years and will do so for years to come. Thanks be to God.
Rev. Jo Forrest
Associate Minister for Congregational Care