O give thanks to the Lord, call on God’s name, make known God’s deeds among the peoples. Sing to the Lord, sing praises to God, tell of all God’s wonderful works (1 Chronicles 16:8-9).

In the United States, November is virtually synonymous with the notion of thanksgiving. As Thanksgiving Day approaches, religious and secular leaders alike will write corny, predictable newsletter articles or devotionals about how we should be thankful and count our blessings. I have to tell you, this article will be no exception.

This time of year, as we enter the holiday season, we tend to be a little more thoughtful, more generous. This is a wonderful sign of the season. But sometimes we can focus on our immediate household to the exclusion of relatives and friends who live far away. As we all know, life can be painfully and unpredictably short. This holiday season, let us make every effort to reach out to loved ones and family members.

Most importantly, let’s reach out to those with whom we might have a strained relationship. We have no idea what the future holds. Therefore, it implores us to be with family as often as possible.

Let’s reach out to those with whom we might have a strained relationship. We have no idea what the future holds.

Here’s a Thanksgiving story of a father who is challenged by his family’s situation and is willing to go to extreme measures.

A retired man in Florida calls his daughter, Sara, in California just before Thanksgiving and announces to her that he is divorcing her mother after 50 years of marriage. The daughter exclaimed, “What? You can’t do that!”

“Oh, yes I can!” he replied. “We can’t stand each other. Irreconcilable differences and all. To be honest, we really hate even seeing each other. We’re glad to be done, and I don’t want to talk about it. But please, do me a favor. Let your sister and brother know because I just don’t want to talk about it anymore.”

The daughter frantically calls her sister and brother, both of whom also explode and vow that their parents won’t be getting a divorce. Sue calls back her father and tells him, “There’s no way you’re getting divorced. We’re all coming there tomorrow to sort this thing out. Don’t do or say anything to mom before we get there.”

The father hangs up the phone, turns to their mother and says, “OK, it worked! We’re finally going to spend Thanksgiving with the whole family and it won’t even cost us a dime!”

What would it look like if we made a concerted effort to reconnect with family members, especially if the lines of communication have been severed and you are no longer on speaking terms?

Siblings of the faith, let this lighthearted story serve as inspiration to motivate us to reach out to family members and loved ones. I know these past two years of political tension and COVID distress has put a strain on many relationships. What would it look like if we made a concerted effort to reconnect with family members, especially if the lines of communication have been severed and you are no longer on speaking terms? (Certainly, if the relationship was toxic or abusive, then it might be best to remain “distanced.”)

I know it can be severely challenging to let bygones be bygones or to agree to disagree. Yet we can lean into peace and reconciliation even if it means you have to say “sorry” first. This doesn’t require that we forget the past. Rather, it invites a more peaceful future. After all, we never know how much time we have left to make amends.

So, this holiday season, let’s seize every opportunity to repair broken relationships. That way, as we gather at our tables, we can enjoy God’s abundant blessings with hearts that are open and relationships that are restored.

Now, siblings of the faith, restored doesn’t necessarily mean that the relationship will be perfect or overflowing with hugs and kisses. But the relationship will no longer be broken and will at least be on the path toward something closer to wholeness. What an amazing way to honor God this Thanksgiving—by living into a spirit of unity!

Give thanks to the Lord for God is good.

Angela T. !Khabeb
Angela T. !Khabeb is a pastor of Holy Trinity Lutheran Church in Minneapolis. She enjoys an active home life with her husband and three children. 

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