I don’t know if I’ve ever written a post, previous blogs included, on the eve of Thanksgiving.
But tonight I’ve slipped the apple pie into the oven and my thoughts have fallen back to a Thanksgiving Eve six years ago, when I presented Y with a small bow-tied package. He opened it to find a pair of very small white crocheted shoes with green trim, and a card that said I hoped he would learn to slow his pace, because tiny feet would be following his soon. That was a Thanksgiving of wonder and joy, and — though we didn’t know it yet — our “bend in the road” in many ways: a last Thanksgiving with our friends-like-family in Virginia before a new year in a new state, a new job, a new home with a new member in our family.
Tomorrow will be the Thanksgiving that follows this summer and its fresh wave of fear. Truth to tell, I’m still smarting from its icy salt sting. I’ve always been wary around fevers, even when Lucy was little, but now they bring high alert and a gripping anxiety when they crop up in the house; Little Jo with a fever now can easily mean a trip to the emergency room. Tonight I type to the staccato of her coughs upstairs. Each one is a blast of adrenaline for me, even though I know this is only a cold, and — more enduringly — I know Whose child she is, and the everlasting arms in which all of us are held.
And tomorrow is Thanksgiving.
I had made plans. We wanted to invite others to our home this year, to welcome those without a place to go as we have been enfolded so many times. On Monday I let go, knowing that it would be poor hospitality to relay the stomach bug and the colds that have rampaged through our house. There will be other days for swinging the front door open to new guests and preparing full-table dinners.
Tomorrow, just the four of us: we will celebrate.
It’s only now, now that I know we won’t have visitors to spark the customary cleaning of the house, and now after this summer, that I realize how afraid I’ve been to say those words.
Can I spread a feast in a world where there are refugees seeking a quiet corner to eat a crust in peace, where emergency rooms will be open and active on this day, where we do not know if the months from here to the next Thanksgiving will bring evil or good?
I’ve read recently that feasting is an act of war. That in the audaciousness of sitting at table under the banner of our King in a broken world, we “reinstate the truth of creation, joy, and all things made new.”
I’ve let it soak in since, and I believe it. I believe that feasting is an act of war — and tonight as I lay Little Jo down in her crib, something in my thoughts whispered, so is the very act of giving thanks.
For giving thanks flies arrows in the face of an Enemy who would do anything to stifle our doing of God’s will — who reminds us at every turn of reasons why we shouldn’t thank God. Are the poor not hungry? Are our barren friends not laden with sorrow? Isn’t it true that the lives of our loved ones can snuff out without even a moment’s notice? What, then, gives us a right to revel in the blessing of good food on the table and children running through our home and our halcyon days? Writing the accusation makes it plainer to me now, and I thank God that it’s shown for what it is.
The act of giving thanks declares that the gift of now is sufficient for me. It goes against the very grain of the human nature, but I do not need the knowledge of what is to come to accept the present blessing. For the security of my peace is bound up not in permanence, but in my Master. I think of the servant in Christ’s parable about the talents; it’s always intrigued me that it was the servant’s narrow view of his master as a “hard man” that poisoned his work for him. I may give thanks for what I hold now, because God will not prove to be a hard-hearted God, even when He takes my perceived blessings away.
So I will.
In the simplest way I know how, I give thanks tonight for the food in the kitchen and the children in their beds and a thousand other provisions, and this tangible knowledge of the goodness of God will fuel our kindness to the people whom He loves deeply.
The table where we will gather tomorrow is not ours, but His, and thus we may all the more freely partake of its abundance, for we claim nothing on it as ours by right, or even ours for the years to come.
All belongs to Him — and He is good.
So yesterday, and again this morning as Y said goodbye as he left for work, I asked for flowers. Their fleeting loveliness has never seemed to justify the dent to our wallet if they’re only for us, but tomorrow they will be part of our celebration of the sufficiency and the mission and the goodness of our King. In our house, we’ll revel in the joys of two children who are old enough and healthy enough to enjoy each other’s company and name things precious to them, and a husband and wife who are daily growing in humor and affection in this season.
Come early afternoon, I’ll lay out the cream toile tablecloth and place the brilliant blooms on it as the kitchen fills with the aromas of an American Thanksgiving at home. I’ll watch as the girls soak in the table setting as they approach the meal — and together with other Feast-Wagers all over the country, we’ll raise a glass to the Bridegroom who has come and who will return again to set things right forever. Together with them, with you, we’ll light a match of gratitude and of beauty in a world that is passing away, as a foretoken of the one that is to come.
God is good, dear friends.
Thanking Him for you today,