Thanksgiving 2020 will be like no other in recent memory. How to celebrate is a question that weighs heavily in the midst of a pandemic that continues to take lives and livelihoods. The Reporter asked some local leaders how they will gather and what they feel thankful for.
President and CEO, Buckhead Christian Ministry
This year, Thanksgiving is going to be different. Our family will visit relatives in Virginia, but we are still working out the details of how to serve the dinner, whether or how older and more at-risk relatives will attend, and what social distancing will look like with smaller children who have not been around each other at all during the pandemic.
We are a faithful family, so no matter what we will be giving thanks to God for all our blessings in the face of all the uncertainty. At BCM, Peachtree Road United Methodist Church will once again sponsor Thanksgiving for 50 BCM families. This is a bright spot our community should celebrate during these trying times. I think we all need a moment to just pause and give thanks, even for the smallest measures of providence in our lives. A spirit of gratefulness will go a long way in getting us through this thing, together.
Rev. Bill Murray
Rector, Holy Innocents’ Episcopal Church
In a year of discomfort and confusion, I find gratitude is the best way to engage the world. While I am an extrovert by nature and a traveler at heart, I have found that this season of life has invited me into being grateful for the presence of God is the smallest of ways — spaces where I can be in such a hurry that I cannot or will not pause to take in the wonder. I can grouse about washing dishes or say a silent prayer of gratitude for the food prepared and eaten, for the fellowship in eating, and the task of cleaning up. I can hurriedly open the computer for the next Zoom meeting or take a moment to give thanks that I can see and engage with people who are equally frustrated with distance learning and conversations. I can lament the thousands of ways we are separate or delight in the phone calls and the old but trusted system of mailing notes and letters.
The cultivation of gratitude is not meant to ignore the deep wounds of hurt and loss during COVID. Mourning and grieving are important aspects of our lives and our faiths. And this season has featured countless losses, of jobs and connections and even lives. In some ways, grief is a different type of gratitude — a yearning for something for which we were deeply grateful. We don’t tend to miss the things we dislike.
Being grateful is not a simple cheerful view of the world. To truly be thankful is to recognize the gifts that we have, and some that we have lost are profound gifts. The work is not to take inventory of how great things are. The practice is to be thankful in such a way that we can open our hearts to give and receive on a deeper level.
President, Dunwoody Homeowners Association
All of our family is out-of-state, so in our home, Thanksgiving is a time for the five of us to wind down and spend some quiet and peaceful time with each other without tight schedules and overlapping activities.
2020 is a challenge for us just like everyone else. Regular jobs with their medical insurance were lost, so we turned to consulting to make ends meet. At the same time, our youngest child faced a major medical diagnosis whose treatment would not be covered by insurance or the Affordable Care Act. Through it all, we were able to make all of our bills and pay for some intensive medical care for our son. At times like this, we are very grateful to keep our family’s head above water and ensure our children have what they need.
Rev. Allen Jackson
Senior Pastor, Dunwoody Baptist Church
I am aware of all of the memes that rightfully declare with much wit and wisdom that 2020 is a year like no other. It is true that a global pandemic has brought sickness to many, unwanted transition to some, and anxiety to all. As a pastor, I feel the pain with each email, phone call, text or personal conversation. I hurt as well for the anger and incivility that permeate our public dialogue in an election year.
I will likely gather with my family here in Dunwoody for Thanksgiving, though we will be careful and keep it low-key.
And I am thankful. I am thankful for my bride of 37 years, my children and my grandson. I am thankful to have come through a heart scare, thankful for the doctors at Emory Saint Joseph’s (and every person at every other medical facility). I am thankful for a community like Dunwoody, and thankful for my faith family at Dunwoody Baptist. I am grateful for the ability to livestream worship services into the homes of our folks as well as homes in many other states and even countries.
I am grateful to live in freedom, ever mindful of those who paid for it through military and public service. I am grateful that I am able to worship a God who is over all and who paid for spiritual freedom by sending His son Jesus to give peace in the midst of pandemic — and everything else.