Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. What do I love about it? It’s a holiday without a big fuss. Okay, there is a meal, but I enjoy cooking and the day really isn’t about the turkey and whether or not it’s dry. What I like is that Thanksgiving doesn’t come with expectations. If I drop a card in the mail to a friend or give a small gift to someone I am thankful for, in the month of November that is just a thoughtful gesture. Come December, the bar gets raised substantially on that whole card-sending, gift-giving thing.
Thanksgiving Day itself is about simply sharing a good meal with family and friends. It brings back childhood memories of a houseful of people at grandma’s, sleeping in sleeping bags on the floor with my cousins, putting pitted black olives from the relish tray on my fingers like little puppets and savoring the salty brine as I ate them one by one.
Mainly, Thanksgiving is about thanking God for an abundance of blessings. Thanksgiving is simple and beautiful from start to finish when I focus is on what is important.
One day of thanksgiving isn’t nearly enough. For the past several years I have celebrated Thirty Days of Thanksgiving and write down every day in the month of November something for which I am thankful . Time and again I come back to my son. I am thankful for milestones that I thought would never come. I am thankful for the sense of acceptance for the milestones that will never be. I am thankful for a sense of hope in a future that is yet to be revealed. I am thankful to be a parent to a remarkable young man who inspires me every day.
I am also thankful for other parents on the journey with me who encouraged me when I was unsure and who allow me to encourage them when they need it too. Years ago the Apostle Paul wrote to a dearly loved church in Philippi. This small group of followers encouraged each other and lifted each other up when they needed it. Paul opens his letter to them:
I thank my God every time I remember you, constantly praying with joy in every one of my prayers for all of you (Philippians 1:3-4 NRSV).
These were Paul’s people, the ones who had his back when times were hard, and the ones he encouraged and guided when they needed it too. These were Paul’s people and special needs parents are my people.
My thanksgiving today, and every day, is for parents who raise remarkable children and for the communities that surround them with unconditional love and support.
God of many blessings, I thank you for parents who are strong and parents in need of strength. I thank you for those who have wisdom and those who seek it. I thank you for those filled with hope and those who struggle. Woven together, parents strengthen each other. I thank you for the gift of community. Amen.
Image “Thank You on Post It Note” courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net