Am I To Give Thanks At This Time?

2022-11-25 Word Count: 888 Reading Time: 5m

Am I To Give Thanks At This Time?

The drawing near of holidays sometimes brings me anxiety. Especially, for a few reasons I'll detail below, Thanksgiving. This year appears to be no different as I find myself catering to a household full of Covid positive patients who I call my family.

As my grandmother got older and grandpa had passed away, eventually the job of hosting Thanksgiving landed on my mom. This was the routine for many years until later when either my sister or I would carry that baton.

The following are a few snapshots of things that have occurred on or near Thanksgiving in my past:

  • On one particular year, my wife and I, having only been married a short time, went to my mom's house for Thanksgiving. Somehow, in the ongoing discussions of some topic or another, the family conversation drifted to a sort of airing of grievances about people my wife and I cared about greatly. My family learned two things about my wife on that day: 1.) While she may be small and gentle, she will, in no uncertain terms, correct your behavior if needed and 2.) Has no qualms doing so for either her mother-in-law or grandmother-in-law. In the end, my family learned to take my wife seriously and more importantly, accepted her as a daughter of their own. Later, this episode would be remembered more humorously than distressing.
  • Only a few years ago at the end of October, our family cat went missing and was never found again. A week or so after that, my mom died unexpectedly. During the course of all of this, we ended up moving and while it was literally just to the house next door, I remember this being such an exhausting and dark winter.
  • My first introduction to my wife's extended family was during Christmas, in another state, for a funeral for her grandpa. Meeting family is hard enough let alone when it's for the passing of a loved family member.
  • There are a few more memories I could share. Some are filled with stress and anxiety, others just more of a general discomfort. Some, like the Thanksgiving I got stuck on the apex of the roof after a failed attempt at hanging Christmas lights, are just more funny than anything.

So it's here that I find myself on the day after Thanksgiving pondering just how upside down things can be and, if I'm being honest, feeling a little sorry for myself.

As of this moment, 4 out of 6 of us have Covid. Some worse than others but mostly just muddling through. One of those with Covid is my wife. While I'm going to avoid specifics for the time being, my wife has had some recent health issues and was currently running through a gamut of medical diagnostic tests, a few of which are now postponed until she is no longer positive. Drawing out the time it takes know whether a health issue is serious or not is not conducive to a peaceful holiday to say the least.

My second oldest and myself are the only ones, so far, untouched by sickness. We've had to cancel our plans with family. We are obviously unable to have anyone over and I can't exactly go volunteer to help at our church with delivering meals on Thanksgiving.

I had a friend tell me once that he figured I used humor as a way to keep people at arms length. He's a cop though, so I was able to dismiss his critique as that of an unqualified opinion. There might be some truth to it though. Faith-wise, I have a tendency to be something of what Richard Beck would call a "Winter Christian", whereas my wife might be considered more of a "Summer Christian". I have a tendency to suspend relaxing because I'm always waiting for the other "shoe to drop" so to speak.

All of that isn't to say that I'm some curmudgeon always looking to be miserable. It's just that my compass naturally drifts in that direction a bit.

So, am I to give thanks at this time? The answer, while hedging always against things getting worse is... yes. How so?

All of these things, the things I'm afraid to lose or the things I worry about, are all coterminous with those things I love and value. Anxiety and hope are two sides of the same coin. When I look to the future and fear loss or disrepair, I only need to be reminded that the ability to do so is paid for by the value these things have now. This returns me to the present. I don't need to lose today in some effort to wait for tomorrow.

As the saying goes:

“So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own. Today’s trouble is enough for today." - Matt 6:34 NRSV

Returning to that coin analogy from before: those things I most cherish are enough for today as well.

Photo by Sixteen Miles Out on Unsplash
Categories: thanksgiving