Our Thanksgiving is going to be a bit different this year. While we plan to visit our son in California, we will not be having a large gathering. With COVID-19 still lurking out there, some precautions still seem to be in order.

And yet, compared to last Thanksgiving, this one promises to be so much better. Last Thanksgiving, my wife and I spent the holiday pretty much alone. My wife works in a nursing home, and so the two of us did everything that we could to limit our exposure to the virus, feeling a responsibility to the vulnerable people with whom she has contact every day. There were no trips to or from California last Thanksgiving, and even our other son, who lives near Philadelphia, stayed a bit distant from us.

But this year, it is going to be better. We will still take precautions, but we are all fully vaccinated, and vaccination is the key to being able to travel again and to share a meal with folks we love again and to living our lives again. Vaccination is the key to Macy’s having their parade again, and to having a cheering crowd at a football game again.

And so, this Thanksgiving, there is real reason to give thanks. I give thanks for the vaccines and for all of those who have worked so hard to develop and to distribute them. I give thanks for the vast majority of us who have done the responsible thing and gotten our vaccines when we were eligible. Mostly, after so long connecting through text messages and Zoom, I give thanks to be able to have our family together again, in the same room, sharing a meal again. .

I hope that, if you are one of those who are fortunate enough to gather with others this Thanksgiving, you will take a moment together to pause in the midst of the cooking and the eating, the balloons and the football. For we would do well to remember that there are those who did not make it to see this Thanksgiving. And being together is not something that we can ever again take for granted. Nor should we ever again allow contentious politics to become more important to us than each other. More than anything else, being together with those we love is reason enough to give thanks, and I hope that this Thanksgiving, you will.

Happy Thanksgiving!

–Pastor Don Steele

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