I talked to an 80 year old man recently. He still takes care of his 99 year old mother who lives with him. When I asked him about his dad, he said, “Never met the man.” There was sadness in his face, then there was outrage. Not at the fact that he was denied the blessings of being on the receiving end of fatherhood; no, his quarrel was with his co-workers when he was younger. Every time they would say something negative about their dads, he would give them an education about what it was like growing up without a father. Even at 80 he still speaks of those memories with intensity in his voice. 

ICT Father BDMy point: I know there are some real bad fathers out there, but it’s Thanksgiving, so if you had the blessing of knowing your father, give thanks. If your father is still with you, give thanks. If your father loves you, rejoice. If you love your father, sing praises to God. My father just turned 88. I wasn’t there for his party as I live so far away, but having him reach this milestone makes me happy.

Distance from family, by the way, brings up another important point. Every year, I hear Americans of all stripes talking about “holiday jitters.” No, they are not referring to the possibility of eating too much and gaining a few extra pounds. They are not talking about racking up charges on their credit cards buying things they can’t afford to buy. They are not thinking about their safety during long hours on the road. Their jitters are of another kind — being with relatives for the Holidays.

I have to confess, I have never truly understood that one. Look, I know there are some unpleasant relatives everywhere, but aren’t we blowing this a little out of proportion? Judging by the stories you hear from people, it appears that many are ready for the mental health ward after a weekend with their in-laws. Really?

Now, I know it’s a totally different culture and totally different time, so disregard this if you want, but I grew up in an environment where having people come over and stay was seen as a privilege, pure joy in some cases. Our house was abuzz with activities. We couldn’t wait for the moment people would come through our front door and we would embrace. My memories of those times are replete with laughter, fabulous scents from the kitchen, and wonderful conversations. We never rushed a guest and never hoped for a last minute cancellation. We were all invested in this exercise in hospitality, which for us almost had religious overtones. In sharing our physical space we enriched the landscape of our souls.

I have a sister who lives seven hours away in another state but all the rest of my family (not including my children, of course) still live about three thousand miles away. I would welcome “holiday jitters” any time. I would scrub the floors to make them shinny, unroll the red carpet, and spread the red rose petals, just for the joy of seeing my mom, my dad, my siblings, and anyone of my extended family walk through the front door of my house to receive my loving embrace.

So this Thanksgiving, turn your jitters into glitters. You are blessed. Your family is coming or you are going somewhere to be with them. Revel in the moment. Praise God you still have them and they are not too far away.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone. Pause. Take a deep breath. Notice: You ARE breathing!

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.” (Ephesians 3:20-21).

Pastor Ivanildo C. Trindade

Lead Pastor, Grace Church, Lititz PA