For many of us, Purim was the last time we shared a holiday meal with those outside of our immediate families. For some of us, it goes back even further, to last Chanukah. In the meantime, there have been Passover, Shavuot, Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur break-the-fast, Sukkot, Shemini Azeret and Simchat Torah. These are a lot of holiday meals, holy endeavors and festive times not to share with extended family, or friends.
Now many of us face a quiet Thanksgiving dinner, with just immediate family, or even alone. What is more, it doesn’t look like Chanukah, arriving shortly thereafter, will be filled with the usual communal candlelightings and festive parties.
Let’s be honest. It can be very depressing to face down another holiday, isolated.
Even if one cooks all the same food to serve at these diminished holiday gatherings, it simply does not feel the same. For all the time we spend on menu planning, COVID has shown us that breaking bread together is so much greater than the sum of the dishes served. It’s about conversation, about personal contact, about human interaction — and camaraderie. It may even be about those relatives who drive you crazy.
It’s about being together, the very thing this pandemic has forced us to curtail, or even eliminate.
Yet, as we prepare for Thanksgiving, we are reminded of its core lesson: gratitude. This pandemic has challenged each and every one of us in many ways, but if we are able, it has also provided an opportunity to perceive just how much we have been given. Some have partners. Some have children. Some have friends. Some have developed new and fulfilling hobbies. Some have employment. Some have good health. Some have the capacity to find joy in the blue sky. Even amidst the unprecedented challenges of COVID-19, we each have something to be grateful for.
Let us try and remember this during Thanksgiving dinner, whatever form it may take.
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