Yesterday was Thanksgiving. There were 11 of us gathered for fellowship and feasting. My 21-month old great niece dubbed Princess Nora provided the entertainment. We listened to a Spotify music playlist of holiday music. We told family stories and gave thanks for making it through another year. It was a bittersweet celebration, for as much as we enjoyed those who could make it we were mindful of those who could not. 2020 took a great toll on our family. We lost my father in July of cancer and my mother in December of COVID. Grief has since been a ever present companion in our lives and sometimes it can be disruptive to our family relationships. Fortunately, yesterday, it was was present as a gracious friend reminded us of good memories and things that live on.
The first Thanksgiving was celebrated in a time of grief as well. According to History.com —
At the first Thanksgiving, colonists were likely outnumbered more than two to one by their Native American guests. Winslow writes: “many of the Indians coming amongst us, and amongst the rest their greatest king Massasoit, with some ninety men.” The preceding winter had been a harsh one for the colonists. Seventy-eight percent of the women who had traveled on the Mayflower had perished that winter, leaving only around 50 colonists to attend the first Thanksgiving. According to eyewitness accounts, among the pilgrims, there were 22 men, just four women and over 25 children and teenagers.
Life goes on, even in the midst of death. People of faith believe there is life beyond death. And not in some ethereal disembodied form. The hope we have in Christ is that there will one day be a great reunion of all the family of faith — people of diverse nations, races, abilities and disabilities. We will recognize each other and rejoice, praising the One who made us, the One who sustains us, the One who gives hope in this life and hope for a new and better the life to come.
When I remember my parents, I think of family gatherings like the one we had yesterday. My sister is making sure everyone has enough food to eat. My father is telling stories about his Kentucky heritage or motorcycle trips he’s taken. Mom is sitting beside my Grandma McPeak, smiling, especially at the young ones, playing. When I imagine what life will be like in heaven, I don’t imagine streets paved with gold, I think of a family feast with Dad’s turkey dressing, Grandma’s banana pudding, Mom’s cherry cheesecake. All the carbs and sugar and none of the ill effects.
But I’m not in the heavenly realm yet. In am in this earthly domain that is sometimes filled with deep sorrow, frenetic mania, fretful fear. Advent is a season of waiting to celebrate the Coming of our King. And, as Tom Petty put it — the waiting is the hardest part.
How do we wait well? This is the question all people, not only believers in Christ, must face. There is much to do while we wait more than just frivolously pass the time. As many of you know, I am very active on Facebook. Truth be told, I am a Facebook fanatic. Not only do I have a personal page, but I have an author one, one for my book When Despair Meets Delight, a group called Hope for Troubled Minds, and a page for my wife’s book Kicked to the Curb. I post regularly as well as comment on other pages and in groups. And not only do I post, but I send messages to community members and friends asking how I can pray for them. This is all well intentioned and good — but not when it overly interferes with my sleep.
Thanksgiving Eve I went too far, even for Facebook and was locked out of my account. Oddly enough, I didn’t get angry about this. I felt relieved. I have decided to interpret this interruption from the Facebook gods as an invitation from God to take a Sabbath from Facebook, at least for a season. I want to focus on longer form writing like letters, emails, and serial short stories. I plan to catch up on some reading and do some book reviews. I will take Briley on some nature walks. I will still publish writing in my blog and send stuff out on email, but I hope that the time saved not scrolling Facebook will be invested in more Advent-worthy endeavors.
What might you do this Advent to wait well for the coming of our Savior?
In other writing:
I’m trying my hand at Young Adult Romance in a serialized fictional story on Kindle Vella. It’s called Flames – A Greenwich Village/Hoosier Basketball Romance, 1963.
Transplanted from dark memories of jazz nights in the Village, Rachel was the brightest, the strangest, and most alluring girl in Hopewell High, class of 1963. Stephen was the hometown hero, a basketball star in a land surrounded by Hoosier hysteria where the only comfort he found was on the hardwood floor. Flames spark when these two unlikely lost souls take shelter in each other’s arms and share dreams bigger than small minds in small towns can handle.
Episodes are published each Sunday here: https://www.amazon.com/kindle-vella/story/B09M6MNS54