Barely a week to go. How did this happen? How is it possible?! It was mid-summer only yesterday (felt like it anyway). How could Thanksgiving be so close already?!? But here we are: the Great Turkey Gorge of ’21 is right around the corner!
Years from now, we’ll look back on it as another year in which family events and holidays were disrupted by COVID. Maybe you’ll remember wistfully seeing your family via Zoom in [fill in town and province here] and wishing you were there so you could gorge together, watch Aunt Maude spill the cranberry sauce all over the beige carpet, or roll your eyes at your shirtless brother-in-law, Steve, who will drink too much and fall over the deck railing.
Ah! The stuff of which memories (and nightmares) are made. I have very fond memories of my childhood Thanksgivings on the farm: bickering leading to a crescendo of accusations and strife; aunts, uncles, and cousins descending upon us like Genghis Khan’s Huns devouring all in their wake; cutting out a drawing of my hand and colouring it like a turkey when I was 17 (I was a slow starter). Bliss.
There’s much for which I’m (pardon this obvious segue) thankful. I’m thankful I grew up on a farm with loving parents (flawed, but at least they were Draconian) with extended family all around me. I’m thankful I had enough to eat (and whined, like a good little First World kid, about having to eat lima beans). I’m thankful I had no experience of war or trauma. I’m thankful I’m such an awesome guy with a great wife and kids – did I mention how awesome I am? (Terrific sense of humour too, I’m reliably told).
Seriously, though, I’m well aware that many of you reading this have not had such a life, that you’ve experienced pain, divorce, loss, trauma, want and need. I’m aware that some of you are experiencing such things right now.
And I will not pretend that at Thanksgiving all those things fade to the background in the light and warmth of a family gathering with turkey, cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie, and assorted other foodstuffs. In fact, the pain is often only magnified by holidays like Thanksgiving.
And I don’t have a ready-made, straight-to-print answer for you. I won’t be so patronizing or glib.
But if you’re in pain; if you’re not looking forward to Thanksgiving because obviously, COVID, duh! Or because it represents in some way what you’ve lost or miss (parents, spouse, family, stability). If that describes you in some degree, then I hope you’ll look up your unit padre or drop by the chaplains’ offices or call and make an appointment.
I won’t pretend, like I said, that I or we can change your circumstances, but I can promise that we’re here to listen, to care (even me), to support you, and to walk with you in your pain however it looks.
This Thanksgiving, I hope that you will at least be thankful for our military family. We have your six.