My news feed is full today. So many people are so thankful. Today must be special. Friends are making statements of thanks for family, friends, jobs, benching RG3, and cars. One of my friends even posted a picture of a motorcycle cop flipping off the camera. The caption says, “Enjoy your bird”.  So witty.  I’m in the Dallas airport flying to Tecate, Mexico to spend time with a family that we build houses with. I often find myself in rooms filled with people going beyond themselves to do good in the world. I am thankful.

Here we are again. The air is brisk and filled with nostalgia. For some, the holiday season is a joyful time spent with friends and family coming together. They eat, drink, sing, some dance – not speaking for myself. When they think of Thanksgiving and Christmas they think of warm fire places, snow falling, wrapping paper crumpling, and food. LOTS of food. As the Jamaicans would say, “Everyting is arie.” It’s all good. Then, there are the others.

For us, the holiday season is a time we remember loved ones that have crossed the threshold of eternity. Maybe we are away from family, and we have been for years. We imagine a time that once was, but isn’t anymore. We are missing pieces. It can be a season of emptiness, and we become lonely even in a room filled with people. Every Christmas song in every lobby of every building haunts us with memories. There is a whole congregation of us, we are not alone. We unite around one vision – this season is not about songs and dancing, it’s about foraging for all the strength and courage we can muster to sit through another dysfunctional family ordeal. The Holidays aren’t something we enjoy, but we are culturally bound to celebrate.

As ironic as this statement is, I’m thankful for Thanksgiving. I’m thankful for this weird holiday when the idea of being thankful is forced on me. Sometimes cultural practices, like Thanksgiving, are just right. The ancient Chinese had Chung Ch’ui. The jewish have an eight day festival called Sukkut. The English Puritans had a practice of setting apart days specifically for gratitude generally after times of great difficulty and despair. It’s like something inside of us understands we need to set apart a time specifically for gratitude. It’s not only a cultural practice, it’s a spiritual one. It connects us to something deeper. When we can say, “thank you” even in the midst of despair, we are fighting, and we are gaining ground.

So today we have an excuse to be thankful. What’s our excuse tomorrow?