Part of Thanksgiving week is spending much needed quality time with family and friends.
For me it’s eating amazingly prepared food, bonfires and 4-wheelers, drinking coffee and catching up on life across the table from a friend, and (if I’m up to experiencing the worst of humanity) venturing out on Black Friday to see the latest whatever the stores are pushing.
Far from the busyness and Christmas music playing way, way too early, there are people with a story.
There’s a lingering hurt, piece of exciting news, or a struggle just below the surface, but very seldom do we take the time to see it beyond a smile and the standard, “I’m fine.”
This is because, for most, Thanksgiving has become a day to be distracted by full bellies, overflowing drinks, frenzied consumerism, and generic small talk.
There’s conversations but you know, nothing too deep or heavy. No, that would require paying attention. After all, this is technically a vacation.
But what if we, as followers of Jesus, treated holidays and family gatherings as an opportunity to soak up memories, listen, and speak life into the lives of our loves ones?
I’ve never participated in the madness of sleeping in a tent outside of a store to get a “deal” on something I don’t really need.
But more times than I would like to admit, I’ve allowed distractions and busyness get in the way of spending quality time with the people I miss the instant I head home.
So in the midst of the festivities this year, I decided to not just make great food and fun the main focus, but make my family and friends a focus as well.
In other words, I intentionally treated Thanksgiving as a time to give and be thankful. Novel thought, I know.
And it was (is) worth every second.
It was a joy to share in the excitement of new additions and new beginnings.
It was heartbreaking to have someone share with me their struggles, and just as difficult to see stubborn wounds that just doesn’t seem to want to heal.
My heart was heavy with the memories of loved ones who have passed, but full of love for the growing generation of grandkids that already outnumber the adults.
I missed the family members who couldn’t make the trip this year, but made sure to not take for granted the people sitting at the table right in front of me.
I spent my days listening more than I spoke.
I laughed until I cried, and cried until I laughed.
I thanked God for all of it.
I pray your Thanksgiving week wasn’t just about good food, sales, and emotionally checking out.
Even if it was, don’t waste another minute.
Don’t wait until next year to ask about a loved one’s story, and don’t hesitate to share yours.
You know, the one you’ve hidden just below the surface.