Platter of cooked turkey with garnish on table. Space for text

W

ith the last 60 days of 2020 coming upon us, it seems what many people are especially thankful for this year is that it is finally coming to an end. This year has been one like no other.

The fall season traditionally brings in the holiday season, except for 2020. The Centers for Disease Control has released new guidelines for celebrating Thanksgiving. This year they recommend families have virtual gatherings versus traveling to spend time with loved ones. People seem to be listening to this advice. According to the New York Times, 70% of Americans plan to celebrate Thanksgiving differently this year, meaning they will not be traveling to spend time with family this month but will be staying home with just their immediate family.  Both Butterball and Hormel foods are trying to pivot to the needs of the average family, realizing that unlike years past, large turkeys may not be sought after by the average consumer. 

Numerator, a Chicago-based market research firm, just released results from recent surveys. The surveys are showing that after Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s will also be different. New York City has canceled the annual New Year’s Eve gathering in Times Square. For the first time in 114 years, New York City is banning crowds from gathering to see this yearly tradition of watching that crystal ball drop live. They are asking people to bring in the New Year virtually. 

Over 50% of the Christmas shopping season is projected to be done exclusively online. It seems 2020 will be going out much like it has been for most of the year. It is completely different—unlike anything we have experienced in past fall celebrations. However, Thanksgiving is still Thanksgiving and Christmas is still Christmas. We may not be feeding as many people or exchanging gifts with as many, but the values and purpose of these year-end celebrations are still in effect.

Yes, it’s been a tough year, but we still have much to be thankful for. We can still pray and give thanks as we gather on the fourth Thursday in November. Quoting the Charlie Brown character Linus, we can still celebrate that, “for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior.” We can still celebrate the beginning of a New Year putting the past behind us and looking forward to a better year. We can still be generous. We can still be encouraging. We can still have hope.

What would life be if we didn’t have hope? Let me remind you that earlier this year, when this pandemic hit in full force, shopping malls such as Desert Ridge rehung their outdoor Christmas lights, inviting people to social distance but to walk around the parking lot and enjoy the calmness of Christmas lights shining in the night sky. On Friday, March 20, the Hallmark channel began to run a Christmas movie marathon, playing 27 “Countdown to Christmas” movies. Why did shopping malls rehang Christmas lights and why did Hallmark replay Christmas movies in March and April? Because the meaning and celebration of Christmas brings joy, peace and hope and this past spring people needed that reassurance. 

This fall and winter season, people need the reassurance that life still holds hope. No matter how many people are around your Thanksgiving table this month or how many people you will be exchanging gifts with next month, let me encourage you to let peace and hope be the center of all you do.