A Thanksgiving to remember | Guest column

Pass the yams! And pass the turkey!

Pass the iPad, too!

I want to Facetime with my family.

Though quarantined from loved ones,

I am grateful I’m not sick.

And I’m thanking God I have technology.”

In a challenging year in which you may be struggling to come up with things for which to be grateful, don’t forget Wi-Fi, Zoom and FaceTime. While pumpkin pie remains our go-to dessert, technology unquestionably takes the cake!

Without doubt, this Thanksgiving will be one to remember. The protocols in place mean restrictions on travel, smaller gatherings at home, and separation from extended family members. It’s all designed to curb the ravenous appetite of an uninvited houseguest that refuses to get the hint.

In the past ten months COVID has eaten our nation out of house and home. This rude intruder has devoured happy times and created sad ones. In-person learning has been canceled, bars and restaurants have been closed, religious services have been reduced and stores have gone out of business. All the same, this unwelcomed visitor is now taking even bigger bites out of a much-loved holiday.

But, Thanksgiving has not been canceled. May I repeat… COVID cannot cancel Thanksgiving! Remember, Thanksgiving is not defined by who’s at our table but what’s in our heart.

Unlike any previous year, this Thanksgiving will be different. But in spite of the restrictions, there is still the opportunity to gather. There is still the opportunity to reflect. And, if we are willing to do the research, there are countless reasons to be grateful. I’m convinced that the key to salvaging this pandemic-plagued holiday is remembering.

“Remember to say thanks!” From the time I was a toddler, my mother’s words have rung in my ears. But her desire to instruct her firstborn in good behavior resulted in more than what she hoped for. Those four little words continue to inform me as an adult. As I’ve contemplated my mom’s advice, I’ve come to see they contain the secret to cultivating a grateful heart.

We recognize those things for which we have to be thankful when we take time to remember. Memory is a wonderful gift we too often take for granted. If Alzheimer’s disease has impacted your family as it has mine, memory is on your short list of things for which you thank God.

If ever there was a time to make withdraws from our memory banks, this is it. Recall your last visit with your parents. Reflect on an unforgettable trip with siblings. Savor the memory of recent conversations with grandchildren. Instead of mourning the fact that you can’t be with family members this week, remember special times you shared with them. Take time to reflect on those who are missing being with you this Thursday. Remember how much they have contributed to your life.

And while this will definitely be a Thanksgiving to remember, make sure to take time to remember. And be grateful!

Guest columnist Greg Asimakoupoulos is chaplain at Covenant Living at the Shores in Mercer Island.