“After giving thanks, he broke it and said, ‘This is my body, which is for you; do this to remember me.’”
1 Corinthians 11:24 (Common English Bible)
This year my wife, Grace, and I will celebrate Thanksgiving Day on the Caribbean Island of Bonaire. Our thirty-fourth Thanksgiving together, this one will be different. Most of our celebrations of this holiday have been with family – our children, our parents, or our siblings. Some years ago, our children and Grace’s mother celebrated Thanksgiving with us in New York City, kicking the day off with the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. During our twelve years in Bucks County, a number of celebrations we shared with another family in that church, each year alternating homes for the meal. Since moving to Florida, several celebrations were with a family of this congregation, breaking from meal preparation in the home to celebrate over a sumptuous buffet provided by the former Marriot of Delray Beach. Guests around the table may have varied through the years. However, there were always guests.
This year, neither of our children are able to make the trip to Florida. Our daughter, Rachael, has now made her home in Seattle, Washington and our son, Nathanael, will be preparing final papers for the fall semester at Princeton Theological Seminary. My brother, Wayne, and his wife, Nancy, have now retired from their ministry in Florida and have moved to Tennessee and Grace’s siblings will be out of the country. The church family we shared several meals with at Marriott have moved on and Grace and I have buried both of our parents. This year Grace and I will be alone for Thanksgiving Day. It is a familiar story. Each year brings change to every one of us – and our families. Since the beginning of this pandemic, it seems the speed of change has only accelerated. Disorientation is the result, often accompanied with some level of grief.
This year’s celebration with be a significant departure from our first thirty-three together – a holiday that always included either family or friends at the table. Therefore, Grace and I will celebrate Thanksgiving Day in Bonaire. It is a decision to embrace what is inevitable in all of our lives – change, and to make an imaginative use of that change. Most of us have little control over our future. Change is a reliable companion that shares life with all of us. What we do have is the ability take charge of that change, to make creative use of it in a manner that creates blessings. Without purposely choosing how we will adapt to change, the consequence that results may produce sadness and grief that is difficult to navigate. Inevitable change in the seasons of life may produce a deeper, richer experience than we ever thought possible or it can diminish life. The choice belongs to every one of us.
Therefore, this year, Grace and I are going to Bonaire. Moreover, I have purchased a fruitcake. Not any fruitcake. As many people, I usually do not care for fruitcake. However, for decades I have delighted in the fruitcake from Collin Street Bakery in Corsicana, Texas. It has become a Thanksgiving Day tradition and it is hard to imagine Thanksgiving without it. I will take this fruitcake to Bonaire and, only there, remove it from its packaging and enjoy it. This year, Thanksgiving Day will be a significant departure from previous celebrations. That is why this fruitcake is so important. In the midst of inevitable change, I need to remember – to remember the journey that now takes me to Bonaire. This fruitcake will connect me meaningfully to the richness of the past as I experience the present moment and anticipate the Thanksgivings that lie in the future. “After giving thanks, he broke it and said, ‘This is my body, which is for you; do this to remember me.’”