I’ll never forget the time when I dropped a friend from high school off at his house the day before Thanksgiving. (In the US, of course, Thanksgiving is celebrated on a Thursday in November.) His mother already had the table set for six people, with fine crystal and china, gold flatware, linen napkins, candles… you get the picture. It was elegant! Inside I laughed, because I knew that the next day I would be at my grandparents’ house. There we would be about 50 people. The dishes, few of them matching and most of them chipped, would be stacked in a pile, and there would be piles of cheap flatware. In the kitchen, the meat (There was always turkey, chicken, ham, and two kinds of dressing.) was on the stove, the vegetables were on the kitchen table, and the desserts were on top of the chest freezer. We ate in the dining room, the living room, the front porch, and anywhere else we could fit. After that huge lunch, cousins and a number of our parents would often pile into cars to go play football in the park.
This year our celebrations may be muted; all of us have had our lives affected by the coronavirus, some in smaller and more subtle ways, others profoundly. We may not be able to invite people we would normally have over, or to accept invitations from others. The Toronto region is shutting down again in the midst of a second wave of infections. People can’t cross the border freely, and many families are separated. Some people are experiencing scarcity. It’s all so different and new. Yet in the midst of this, I find so many things for which to be grateful.
In this Sunday’s first reading, the prophet Isaiah describes the beautiful scene of the heavenly banquet:
“On this mountain the Lord of hosts will make for all peoples a feast of rich food, a feast of well-matured wines, of rich food filled with marrow, of well-matured wines strained clear.”
Note that the Lord does this even before death is destroyed (which will happen, the prophet says). So in these days of Covid, of unrest across the border, of viruses and economic uncertainty and of death, let us remember that we are still called to give thanks and to enjoy the feast the God lays before us. Let us be grateful.