Preparing for Thanksgiving 2020
For many reasons, Thanksgiving 2020 will be more stressful than most years:
- With air travel at record lows due to the pandemic, a lot of family members won't be joining the usual Thanksgiving extended-family feast in 2020.
- Closures of restaurants, travel restrictions, and the inability to join with local friends will put a crimp on alternative solutions and celebrations. This will be especially hard on single younger and older people.
- Traditional Thanksgiving school activities, such as feasts and plays, will be curtailed.
- Thanksgiving 2020 comes after a divisive US election and financially challenging time for many.
Taken together, Thanksgiving 2020 will be a time of stress, longing, and despair for many.
One of the most important things the church can do is PREPARE our church members and kids to deal with the stresses and be on the look-out for those in need.
Here are two ideas to help prepare people for Thanksgiving 2020
1. A Thanksgiving 2020 Instruction Video
Have your church kids and leaders record "Thanksgiving 2020 Instructional Videos" that prep church members in a humorous way to be thinking about the challenges and needs this year.
- "What and what not to say or do this year at Thanksgiving Dinner."
- Signs of Stress to Watchout For (but real and humorous)
- "Upping your Gratitude instead of Attitude"
- "How to Leave an Empty Chair at this Year's Dinner"
- How Kids can help reduce stress and sadness (do's and dont's at home).
You could create the video's "script" in class and then record individual kids reading individual portions of it.
Some serious subjects you could creatively address:
- Who in your congregation or neighborhood will be alone this year if you don't invite them to safely join your Thanksgiving meal? Or take them a portion of your meal?
- What can you do in advance to reach out to family and church members to "check in" on their plans and identify needs?
- How can you serve and set places for everyone differently this year to make everyone feel safe?
- What's your plan to "ramp up" your calls and "Facetiming" to those who can't be with you?
- What "gratitude" actions and activities can you undertake to make this year's Thanksgiving meal a little more meaningful for all concerned? (Suggest several.)
- Leave a chair or place empty for those not with you. ("Empty chairs" are have been used in religious rituals such as Passover and as a way military families remember those they've lost.)
2. Thanksgiving 2020: The Year Donating Food Matters Even More
Due to COVID-related job and wage losses, more people are seeking food pantry assistance. If ever there was a year when traditional food donations need to be increased, this is it. Helping others is also a great way to put your own stress in perspective.
- Make copies of a list of groceries that your local food pantry suggests.
- Paste them to brown paper bags and distribute them in church.
- Save and distribute some of the brown bags to your NEIGHBORS (who will also drop them off at your church too, bonus!).
- Mail a grocery bag to someone who can't join you for Thanksgiving and ask them to "join you in putting food on the table of someone in need."