Over the past month, most American minds have turned to preparations for festivities and celebration in observance of this year’s quickly approaching Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving is the second-largest holiday in America and one where the concept of family should be just as large. By now, families have solidified travel plans, some have even started traveling to relatives for reunions, and others are planning to stay home with their immediate families and maybe some close friends to partake in their own family feasts for this American holiday. Many of us get excited about how big a turkey we will have, how much of that fresh and perfectly flavored pumpkin or pecan pie we will eat, or like me, just having some of that soft, delicious dressing that nobody makes better than my mom. There are so many things that make our Thanksgivings what we always think of when we hear “Thanksgiving,” but I want to bring to mind a different style of observing Thanksgiving – a style that a large number of Americans have, but one which many do not think about.
Over Thanksgiving, several tens-of-thousands of American troops will still be deployed overseas in foreign countries. These soldiers, sailors, marines, and airmen will not be home for Thanksgiving. Some of these troops will celebrate Thanksgiving with their units, and still others will not celebrate Thanksgiving, even in that way, because their location and present assignment of service will not make it possible. Now get this. Some of our American troops who are overseas will not end up setting foot on this soil again. Those specific service members, because of their sacrifice that they will give, will never celebrate another Thanksgiving. Think about it…
To those who are deployed and will be absent this Thanksgiving, we remember you, we thank you, and we pray you safely return home soon. There is yet another style of Thanksgiving celebration that I want us to ponder.
The American troops overseas have families here at home. These families will not have their whole family home for Thanksgiving. Their family member who is serving overseas could be anyone in their family — a father… a mother… a son… a daughter. How about the families of which multiple family members are deployed? Imagine being in those shoes for a moment. Many of these families don’t know what conditions their family members are in or where they even are. Regardless of whether or not they know their family members’ whereabouts or how they are doing, I guarantee that these families are truly missing their family members who are deployed, and likewise, the service members are missing their families. To those who have family deployed who will be absent this Thanksgiving, we remember you, we thank you, and we pray your family members safely return home soon. If you are able to have your whole family here in America this Thanksgiving, then you are blessed.
“Okay, okay! So we need to make sure we remember those who are serving overseas during Thanksgiving, right??” Well yes, that’s part of my point, and you probably get that well by now. Yes, I encourage you to remember those who are serving overseas and are unable to be with their families here on U.S. soil for an American Thanksgiving. Yes, I encourage you to pray for health and a safe return for those who are deployed overseas serving our country, but I also want to make the other half of my point. For those of us who are here at home with our families, I encourage us all to think about the blessing we have of being here with our family members. We will not have them forever.
Let’s take this Thanksgiving to not just be our typical idea of “thankful” that our family is here with us, but rather catch up with and invest in our family members and make this be one really memorable Thanksgiving. Let’s not let this holiday be the best one ever because “we had the biggest turkey ever!” or because “this year we ended up making the most beautiful pie ‘eveeeerrr!!’,” but let’s make this Thanksgiving be the best Thanksgiving ever because we not only remember those who make it so our families can be together this week, but also because we act on that blessing by really spending the holiday with our families. Instead of just being at the same table or being in the same room with our family, let’s engage with them this Thanksgiving. To those of you like me, text a few people if you want to and maybe, Just Maybe, Snapchat a few foods or take a couple pictures of your favorite dishes haha, but let’s be careful not to let that run over the great opportunity to gather with our families.
Let’s remember those who are serving us overseas and will not be here this Thanksgiving, and let’s use the blessing we have to engage with our families and make this a great time of celebration. Happy Thanksgiving to you all, and may it be the best one we’ve ever had!