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A Thanksgiving like no other


Consider writing a letter to yourself to commemorate the time

November 26, 2020

A couple years ago, at our family Thanksgiving gathering at my sister’s house in Virginia, I brought a variety of blank notecards, envelopes and stamps.

I asked each person in the family — young and old — to write a note to themselves and to include anything they wanted: joys and concerns, thoughts about our get-together, goals for the year ahead — anything at all. I explained that I would keep the notes for a year before dropping them in the mail. “It will be a surprise when you receive your note back,” I said. “You’ll recognize the handwriting and remember you wrote the note to yourself last Thanksgiving.”

I wish I could tell you that everyone gladly participated without grumbling, but I can’t say that. One person never found time to sit and write, and another just sealed up a blank notecard to appease me. Some, however, completed the task thoughtfully.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, I thought we might each do this little exercise on our own or within our own household. Instead of mailing the note a year later, just write on the envelope: Read on Nov. 25, 2021. It will be like a mini time capsule of a year like no other and your hopes and dreams for the future.

Here’s what a member of my family said about the note written in 2018 and opened in 2019:

When I wrote the note, I was dealing with an upsetting circumstance that I was trying to deal with biblically. I felt misunderstood and that nobody was taking my perspective. I felt nobody wanted to listen to me, and I felt frustrated. I was trying to leave things in God’s hand, so I was memorizing 1 Peter 2:23: “When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly.”

When I received the note in the mail a year later, I remembered why I wrote what I did. As I read it, the note served as a reminder of my struggle that continued, but through the year as I learned to recall the verse when I became angry, I claimed it as my verse. I was learning to appropriate the fact that I do not always have to be understood and fight to be right. Jesus dealt with the worst misunderstanding and continues to be misunderstood and will continue to be misunderstood. Although the issue had not disappeared from my life, it felt less raw. I had learned to leave my concerns with God because he will take care of me no matter what.

If the note idea doesn’t work for you, think about starting a scrapbook that you write in on special occasions like holidays. My husband found one that his family started in 1998, and it has been a joy for him to read more than two decades later. Whatever you do, let this be a Thanksgiving to remember.

And God is able to provide you with every blessing in abundance, so that by always having enough of everything, you may share abundantly in every good work. —2 Corinthians 9:8

Tammy Warren, Communications Associate, Presbyterian Mission Agency

Revised Common Lectionary Readings for Thursday, November 26, 2020, Thanksgiving Day (Year A)

First Reading Deuteronomy 8:7-18
Psalm 65
Second Reading 2 Corinthians 9:6-15
Gospel Luke 17:11-19

Today’s Focus:  Thanksgiving Notes

Let us join in prayer for: 

PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff
Erica Thomasson, Presbyterian Foundation
Edward Thompson, Board of Pensions

Let us pray:

God our Creator and sustainer, we give you thanks for your unfailing love that never ends and from which we can never ever be separated. Amen.

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