A Different Thanksgiving Day in 2020

Typically, the Thanksgiving holiday features some of the busiest travel days of the year. With the pandemic still strong and no vaccine or cure available, travel plans are changing. In the past, it has been estimated that as many as 90 percent of Americans eat turkey on Thanksgiving Day. While that may not change, the traditional family gatherings will likely look different this year.

Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, an American tradition since 1924, will still take place, but it will be through a prerecorded video format. The New York retailer tweeted that the parade will go on, but “we won’t be marching. We are reimagining it into a televised-only spectacle.”

Some of the food served on Thanksgiving Day has included turkey, ham, potatoes (mashed and sweet), casseroles, cornbread, dressing, gravy, cranberry sauce, macaroni and cheese, green beans, and various desserts led by sweet potato pie and pumpkin pie. While the menu this year for most people may include some of these offerings, the meal, in many cases, will be eaten with far fewer people gathered together.

Because of safety precautions for this year, one of the things people seem to be thankful for is the technology to see and talk with each other even though they cannot be physically present.

While scientists work on a vaccine and drugs to combat the COVID-19 virus, Christians can give thanks to God for these gifted people whom God uses as a means of expressing His grace and mercy to us.

President Lincoln proclaimed a National Day of Thanksgiving during the Civil War in 1863. Presidents followed that pattern until Congress, in 1941, made it a national holiday occurring on the fourth Thursday of November.

While there are some records of various days for observing a Day of Thanksgiving in America, some predating the Pilgrims and Wampanoag three-day festival, the 1621 celebration is the iconic scene that most identifies the American tradition. About half of the Pilgrim settlers died the previous year. That Thanksgiving came after the harsh realities of life in a new land. The native Americans and the Pilgrims found a way to share in a time of powerful fellowship.

Whether it is virtual or in person, turkey or something else, travel or no travel, the important emphasis of this day is to pause and give thanks to God for His blessings. This year is a different type of Thanksgiving, but the opportunity to give thanks has not changed. Perhaps next Thanksgiving we will look back with COVID-19 in the rearview mirror and be thankful.

Thanksgiving Day cannot erase our challenges and difficulties, but it does give us the opportunity to realize the power of being thankful.