A common refrain: Thanksgiving just won’t be the same. Not the same people. Not the same food. Not the same traditions. Heaviness and disappointment blanket each conversation. It is true for many of us. This holiday season does not have the same kind of celebratory feel when we know it is best to stay home, feasting alone or with a much smaller guest list.
But perhaps, one of the ways to lift our spirits is by first, acknowledging that things will not be the same. Allow the frustration and sadness to sit within. Not ignoring the pain. Recognizing the bit of defeat that we cannot possibly control. No, this Thanksgiving will not be the same. Not at all.
But second, we hold in our hands the power to make it different. Think of your favorite holiday tradition. From jogging in the Turkey Trot, eating pumpkin pies, sharing memories late into the night. A tradition begins somewhere with someone deciding to add something special or sacred to an occasion. An act “catches”, continues through the years and becomes a staple, not to be missed. This year, 2020, does not have to be written off, buried, and forgotten. Instead, alone, or together, we can create a new tradition, something that will pull us from longing towards the past. A tradition that reminds us to appreciate the here and now.
When we put the Torah away, we chant the words “Renew our lives as in days of old.” Renewal involves creation, innovation, reflection, invention, and change. No, this Thanksgiving will not look the same. But thank God, we can help make it look different, filled with a sense of ingenuity, passion, gratitude, and love.
May your acts of today become the traditions of tomorrow.