Well, this should be interesting. Thanksgiving 2020 promises to be unique, with social distancing, limited travel and hidden smiles.
Growing up, my family did a much bigger deal for Thanksgiving than for Christmas. My mom and her sister went to my grandparent's house for Thanksgiving, and it was a delight of turkey, dressing and a special pot of mac and cheese set between me and my cousin Kathy. We did puzzles, ran around outside and basically made memories. We always took a family photo, which is cool to look at my granny's old albums.
As kids grew and married, Thanksgiving got larger and larger, and the party migrated to what I call the "family farm" (I'm the only one that calls it that, but whatever.) It's acres in the Texas hill country with a pond, croquet, chickens and a tremendous brick fire pit that delivered the best barbecue. There was German sausage, rows of crockpots as everyone brought something special – my mom's broccoli and cheese casserole is a must! Heck, we even had some turkey in there somewhere.
We ate in the garage, which is six cars wide with picnic tables, a pool table and all the lovely antiques and collectibles that my aunt keeps lining the pegboard walls. It's our family retreat.
Eventually, the desserts got their own room. Seriously, there was a gardening room on the side of the house with a sliding glass door, and my aunt set it up with pies, cookies, pink stuff and the ever-present pumpkin cake – heaven!
That garage full of family has expanded and contracted over the years as we gained and sadly lost loved ones. I remember years we had more than 50 people in the prayer circle before the meal, and I remember as few as 20.
This year, a few of us will gather in my mother's back yard with fold-out tables, too much food, arts and crafts for the kids and my college-age son on zoom on a laptop sitting on the table.
Even if I didn't have anyone to share a meal with, I'm thankful. Grateful and overwhelmed that I've made it this far in life and that I have the time and the heart to sit and remember those I'm missing.
I read once that grief is just love with no place to go. I get that. It's a welling up of energy and heart that has nowhere to point.
So, here's an idea.
If you can't communicate in person, call. If you can't call, send a text, an email or a handwritten letter. Make a list of everyone who crosses your mind, and every few days, send a silly card out to one or two. Who cares if they didn't reach out first? If they never respond, it doesn't matter because you are pointing love out in all directions. If enough of us do that, we will all reconnect. Be thankful with me. Choose to love and do it with a point!