If There’s An Empty Seat At Your Thanksgiving Table




Writer’s note: I wrote this for my fantastic community of newsletter subscribers. I usually save content just for them, but felt that this message was important enough to share with all of you whose holidays look different this year. If you’re not currently subscribing, you can do so here.


When I graduated from high school I got a car - an Acura Integra. At first I wasn’t too familiar with that model of car. But once I got on the road I started to notice the same style all around.


I’m not sure if it’s that same issue or if it’s an intentional move on my favorite radio station’s part, but currently there seems to be an abundance of songs around the theme of “God is doing something in this. We may not understand it now, but we can be assured that He is still moving.”


The tie in, of course, is that I wonder what in the world is going on with this hard, history-making season we’re in. Especially as we approach Thanksgiving and it looks different, quieter, smaller, emptier….for many of us.


So as I listen to the station play that music, my ears perk up to the enormous amount of songs that assure me that God is indeed in control even when our eyes cannot see it or make sense of it.


The Caifano Thanksgiving is normally a bustling day at our house full of cousins, grandparents, great aunts and uncles, and overnight guests.


This year, there will be many empty chairs.


For that reason and because, after all, it is the season of giving thanks, I’ve been trying to be intentional about naming the good occurring in my family’s life. Good things that wouldn’t have occurred under the normal circumstances of our busy commitment-filled lifestyle.


Such as:


-Me finally remembering to cut the kids’ nails on a regular schedule.

-Getting to know their individual personalities so much more intimately.

-Teaching the kids how to make their own lunches (and observing their interesting condiment choices).

-Me finally….beginning…..to write. 💃

-Getting to know neighbors I hadn’t spent much time with (outside in the summer).

-Seeing the kids thrive in a homeschooling environment.

-Finally organizing our basement. Except that back left corner. I’m still not goin’ there.


These of course are small, but we must remember that there are huge, beautiful things that are occurring during this time of trial...even because of it. I don’t diminish the pain and difficulty this is occurring by saying that. But I do want to be a voice that incites some goodness and light and encouragement.🌟


So as you approach this next Thursday, if you are one of the many people who have empty chairs at your table, remember what the radio station keeps reminding me…


-God is doing something in this. He is at work now, just as He always has been. (John 13:7; Philippians 2:13; Isaiah 55:8-9)


-There are still things to be thankful for. And it will bode well for us if we name them.⬇


“Silent gratitude isn’t much good to anyone,” said early 1900s novelist Gladys Bertha Stern.


In other words, gratitude is meant to be expressed.


So do yourself a favor and express it. To your family members, your coworkers, the grocery store clerk, the pediatrician. Express it to God. It will comfort your soul, encourage others, and give glory to God.


Wishing you and yours - however many that may be - a blessed Thanksgiving.


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