Should We Cancel Thanksgiving?

Posted by Susan On November 18, 2020 ADD COMMENTS

As though 2020 hasn’t already been painful enough, here we sit positioned on the brink of Thanksgiving, wondering how dire the consequences would be if we “give thanks.” 

My husband and I own a lodging business in Washington State, and our on-site manager fielded 30 calls yesterday for last minute Thanksgiving Day cancellations after the state governor frightened them into submission. Almost everyone I know is wondering if they should go ahead and roast that big turkey they bought, or…what??  At this point, just days before Thanksgiving, I still don’t know who will be here at our house for a feast because everybody’s plans are still so fragile. 

And yet if there was ever a more relevant time for us to consider why we set aside a day of particular Thanksgiving– recalling the story of the Pilgrims and the reasons we give thanks– it’s now, this “pandemic” year of 2020. Never in our lifetime has the reality of Thanksgiving hit so close to home! Never has it been so important for us. 

The covid virus seems to be on the rise, it’s true. My husband and I were hit pretty hard- but we’ve survived it, thanks be to God. We have several friends who are also recovering from it. One of my daughters-in-law just tested positive, but she has very mild symptoms. Our neighbor’s brother-in-law, on the other hand, just passed away because of it. We’ll never know the true statistics, as there have been far too many discrepancies in the numbers (my husband was counted as positive twice) but a fairly accurate estimation is still about a 97% survival rate, most of these with mild symptoms.

When the Pilgrims gathered together for that first Thanksgiving, I’m quite sure they could have readily identified with our fear of a pandemic- except that in their case, it truly was a pandemic. After having endured the horrific storm at sea, they laid anchor off Plymouth, Massachusetts and tried to get through that first cold winter in a barren, uncivilized place. In that first year, sickness hit, and although none of the children were affected, half of their adult number died. Half of them! That’s a 50% survival rate- “pandemic” in the truest sense of the word! 

And yet, when spring arrived and the Mayflower was ready to sail back to England, not one of them chose to go back. Even with all they had suffered, and the loss of half their number due to a pandemic, their freedom was too valuable to let go of. They paid a high price for the freedom to worship God, but it was still worth it to them. Their governor, William Bradford explained that, “…these things did not dismay them– though they did sometimes trouble them– for their desires were set on the ways of God and to enjoy His ordinances; they rested in His providence, and knew whom they had believed.” 

So you know what they did? They made a feast, and celebrated the providence of God with great Thanksgiving. And so should we. 

I think we’re all intelligent enough to know when to quarantine ourselves, and how to be wise in proper cleanliness and sanitation. Our forms of celebrating Thanksgiving will undoubtedly vary out of necessity, and that’s okay. But let’s never forget that we are still building on the foundations that the Pilgrims laid for us, and our freedom to worship God is far too valuable a prize that they themselves paid a far higher price for. We must guard it.

Like the Pilgrims, let’s not be dismayed by the things around us. Let’s set our desires firmly on the ways of God, and enjoy His ordinances. Let’s rest in His providence, with firm confidence in Him whom we believe. And by the way- HAPPY THANKSGIVING!


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