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  • Pastor Torri Vande Zande

Grateful in the Loss

It was around noon on Thanksgiving Day. My mom and I sat in dad’s hospital room watching television while he slept. This was the third year in a row dad became sick over Thanksgiving. I remember my mom looking at me and saying, “I don’t want to eat hospital food again.”

We quietly told dad we were leaving for a little while, got in the car and looked for a place to eat. We drove back and forth down Main Street at least 4 times before we found a little corner restaurant open. We walked into the diner to find no one but the staff. They were sitting in a far corner booth across the restaurant. We were the only customers . They greeted us kindly and sat us at a booth near the exit.

The waitress came over and asked if we would like the Thanksgiving special. We both said yes and she disappeared into the kitchen. It was in that moment things became very quiet. Neither of us spoke.

Mom was sad, but as always she was trying to make the best of a difficult situation. I was sad and struggling to keep positive. I kept thinking of how Thanksgiving had changed over the years. It seemed like Thanksgiving had gone through an evolution process. It was once filled with laughter and chaos, but now it was filled with worry and sadness.

Mom and I had a nice conversation over our dinner and we laughed at our dilemma of finding the only restaurant open within a 10 mile radius. We talked about making the best out of situations life gives us and how lucky we were to be eating an amazing meal. Then, out of nowhere, it hit me… there was this weird sensation and mixture of emotions I had never experienced before. In the middle of that diner, I felt peace, gratitude and hope all mix together. But there was one more emotion that did not seem to belong.

That emotion was sadness. It was the strangest feeling. To feel sadness in the midst of all those other emotions confused me.

As I look back on that experience, I have come to realize what was happening inside of me that day. I was grieving over the things I had lost over the years. When I was little, Thanksgiving was a time of fun, craziness and extended family, but over the years it had become a time of uncertainty and fear. It was not a “Happy Thanksgiving”, but it was a grateful Thanksgiving.

For many people the holidays are not seen as happy, but they are seen as difficult and sad. This Thanksgiving I want to give permission to those of you who struggle this time of year to not have a Happy Thanksgiving. Yes, you read that correctly, it is okay not to have a Happy Thanksgiving. I do, however want to challenge you to have a Grateful Thanksgiving.

What is a Grateful Thanksgiving?

1. A Grateful Thanksgiving goes beyond human feelings and chooses to look to the faithfulness of God.

2. A Grateful Thanksgiving focuses on what you have, not on what you don’t have.

3. A Grateful Thanksgiving is choosing to plant a seed of hope inside your heart which is rooted in God’s love.

May this Thanksgiving be filled with peace, gratefulness, hope and a little bit of sadness for things lost along the way.

Blessings to all of you.

“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases. His mercies never come to an end. They are new every morning. Great is Your faithfulness God.” – Lamentations 3:22-23


The Table is a Christian Church in Davenport, Iowa, pursuing transformation:

from greed toward generosity

from violence toward peacemaking

from isolation toward neighborliness

from fear toward faith

Worship Sundays at 5pm

102 E. 2nd St. Davenport

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