Planning for Thanksgiving this year may look very different.  Depending on the area of the country you live in, perhaps you are limited to the number of people around your table or you are celebrating as usual.  If it looks different, how can you approach Thanksgiving?

Acknowledge your feelings

One of the first things to do is to check in with your own feelings about the changes you may need to make for celebrating Thanksgiving.

First, what are the changes needed? Are there fewer people around your table?  You don’t get to see your children or grandchildren?  How does this Thanksgiving look different?

For me, we are not gathering together physically.  Everyone else has different plans.  I still hope to gather people together through Zoom but have yet to nail down a time and activity yet.  My granddaughters informed me they loved the Easter brunch we had last spring.  We’ll see if we can pull off eating something together.

Then, write down all the emotions that bubble up around those changes.  I feel ______ because_________  then keep going.   Are you grieving?  Relieved?  Sad? Angry? Frustrated?  Whatever the emotions are, write them down and get them out of your body.

What’s behind the emotions?  Missing the people?  Frustrated over the situation?  Disagreement over other people’s decisions?  Get as honest as you can to discover where you are at this point in time.

Notice how even expressing them makes a difference.

Ask God for wisdom

Now that you have identified your emotions, give them over to God.  Ask for His wisdom on how to view this year’s Thanksgiving.

I love this reminder from James 1:5-8 about how to ask for wisdom and what God gives:

And if anyone longs to be wise, ask God for wisdom and he will give it! He won’t see your lack of wisdom as an opportunity to scold you over your failures but he will overwhelm your failures with his generous grace. Just make sure you ask empowered by confident faith without doubting that you will receive. For the ambivalent person believes one minute and doubts the next. Being undecided makes you become like the rough seas driven and tossed by the wind. You’re up one minute and tossed down the next. When you are half-hearted and wavering it leaves you unstable. Can you really expect to receive anything from the Lord when you’re in that condition?

Take time to sit and listen for the wisdom that only God provides. What thoughts come to mind as you listen?  He will settle your emotions and heart as Thanksgiving approaches and fill it with gratitude and grace.

Determine how you can connect for Thanksgiving

As you ask for wisdom, He may give you insight on other ways to connect.  In conversations with others, I have gathered some rather unique ways to connect with family that are different this year for them and may spark your creativity:

  • Send “care packages” if you can’t be together physically. Especially if you have grandchildren or young nieces and nephews, games and puzzles could be great things to pop in the mail now to let them know you are thinking of them. This is something I plan to do for my grandchildren who live further away.  Adults might appreciate cheese or fruit packages.
  • Technology can bring the miles together. Zoom is free for groups for 45 minutes and easy to use.  You can do a read aloud with children, have discussions with families and as I mentioned above, even have meals together via technology.
  • Drive-by parades could be your thing. If you are not meeting with your family, why not decorate your car, dress up as turkeys or other characters and drive by your family’s house with noisemakers, streamers and a little care package for each child. Grandparents can be crazy once in a while.  It’s all about the memories.
  • Cook and serve completely different food, then do a different activity. Take a walk, visit a park, get outside.
  • Finally, if it is an adult-only affair, reminisce about the past. As you do, set a recorder on your phone to capture the memories. Those memories will be priceless for years to come.

Give thanks

In the big picture of a different thanksgiving, you and I can give thanks.  Gratitude helps our hearts, minds and souls.  What is it that you can be grateful for no matter what?

For me, I am grateful for family and friends I can talk to, no matter what.  I am passionate about connecting and making the memories, wherever I can make them happen.

In Thessalonians 5:16-18

Rejoice always, give thanks for this is God’s will for you.

May this be a Thanksgiving of giving thanks for life, love and an opportunity to connect, no matter the circumstances.


May I pray for you?

Lord Jesus,

Fill our hearts with gratitude this Thanksgiving.  As we do, let Your peace surround us. 

Some of us have people missing around the table so we grieve.

 Yet your wrap-around presence is what we need, for You are our life giving strength.

May we lean into You this Thanksgiving and feel Your arms of love around us.