thanksgiving, Uncategorized, Word Wednesday

When Celebrating Thanksgiving is Hard

Empty Chairs . . .

Some years Thanksgiving is harder to celebrate than other years. I love the turkey, giblet gravy, cranberry sauce, dressing, and green bean casserole. I embrace the cooler weather, gold and garnet leaves, and the almost naked trees, and I love gathering with family and friends–whoever can come. Yet, there have been many years when I’ve missed the people not sitting around my table. 

As a child, Thanksgiving was one of my favorite holidays. When I grew up and moved away, it was always a struggle not to be sad if we couldn’t travel home. But the great thing about being a military family was there were always others who needed family that day too. So, I invited other people to celebrate this day of thankfulness with us.

Hole in My Heart

There were years when I really missed my grandmother’s homemade rolls and my mom’s cornbread dressing. These were years when a hole in my heart made the celebrating difficult, but I’ve learned a secret to those difficult holidays when there is a heaviness, an emptiness, and grief overshadows my joy.

Giving Thanks and Letting Go

First, I thank the Lord for those good memories, and then I let go, as best I can, to make room for new memories. A good friend of mine, JoAnne Macco Silvia wrote a wonderful post last year about The Blessing of Letting Go.

She explains why trees must let go of their leaves as well as the benefits of letting go of things in our lives. She writes:

When we let go of burdens, we make room for blessings.

We let go of resentment to make room for love.
We let go of worry to make room for hope.
We let go of doubt to make room for joy.

Sometimes we have to let go of yesterday to make room for today's blessings. Click To Tweet

If Thanksgiving is hard

This is what I do when celebrating Thanksgiving is hard:

  • Give myself permission to do something nontraditional like cooking hamburgers on the grill or baking lasagna.
  • Invite someone who needs a family to share the holiday with mine.
  • Practice thankfulness. Intentionally speak out loud the things I’m thankful for.
  • Serve at a homeless shelter.
  • Enjoy a low-key day if it’s just our little family and make a memory like playing football outside or taking a walk together.

The bottom line is: No matter what our feelings are telling us, we always have so much to be thankful for. I loved this verse from the Bite of Bread this week.

Let them give thanks to the LORD for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for men, for he satisfies the thirsty soul and fills the hungry soul with goodness. (Psalm 107:8,9) KJV

give thanks

I Needed That

The word thanks was translated from a Hebrew word that literally means to use the hand, to revere in worship with extended hands, and confession of need.

When we say, “Thank you,” we are saying, “I needed that! “

The verse promises that he satisfies our hungry and thirsty souls, with goodness. He fills us with himself.

When we come to God with hearts of gratitude we are confessing our need for His goodness. #thanksgiving Click To Tweet

These are powerful words from Jesus Calling:

Thankfulness is not some sort of magic formula; it is the language of Love, which enables you to communicate intimately with Me. A thankful mind-set does not entail a denial of reality with its plethora of problems. Instead, it rejoices in Me your Savior, in the midst of trials and tribulations . . . . ” (Jesus Calling)

Bite of Bread Bible Reading Plan

Thanksgiving is a lifestyle, not a one day event., and these verses can help us incorporate living thankfully everyday.

Go Deeper

You can  take a screen shot of the reading plan and read each verse daily or you can go deeper using the printable I made just for you. The printable contains the scriptures below and questions and prompts to maximize your quiet time in the Word. Linger a little longer. Think deeper. Question. Pray.

Sneak Peek of the BoB

Psalm 107:8,9Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for mankind,
for he satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things. 

  • There is always something to be thankful for. List five things today in your journal and write down why you’re thankful for Jesus.

Philippians 1:3-6 I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now,  being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

  • Who are the people you are thankful for? Tell them today.

2 Cor. 2:14 But thanks be to God, who always leads us as captives in Christ’s triumphal procession and uses us to spread the aroma of the knowledge of him everywhere.

  • Do you smell like Jesus? Write down a list of people who you know who spread the aroma of Christ? How do they do that?

Get the Printable with the Prompts!

2 Cor. 9:11-15  You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God. This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of the Lord’s people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God.  Because of the service by which you have proved yourselves, others will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the gospel of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with them and with everyone else. And in their prayers for you their hearts will go out to you, because of the surpassing grace God has given you. Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!

  • God, generosity, and grace. They all go together. How has God’s generosity and grace blessed you? Who will you pass that grace to? Pass it on.


Colossians 1: 3-6: We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, because we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love you have for all God’s people— the faith and love that spring from the hope stored up for you in heaven and about which you have already heard in the true message of the gospel that has come to you. In the same way, the gospel is bearing fruit and growing throughout the whole world—just as it has been doing among you since the day you heard it and truly understood God’s grace.

  • Take some time to thank God and pray for your family and friends who know Jesus.

Psalm 69:30 I will praise God’s name in song and glorify him with thanksgiving.

  • Turn on one of your favorite worship songs or Christian radio stations and dance in your kitchen today.

Psalm 147:7 Sing to the Lord with grateful praise; make music to our God on the harp.

  • Grab a highlighter and highlight all the verses in Psalms that speak of praising and worshiping the Lord. Write a few down in your journal.

No Thursday Night Live

I’ll miss meeting with you this week. In case you need some encouragement you can always visit my archived teachings on YouTube. Last week our lesson was “If You Only Knew How Important You Are.”  If you missed the teaching, and you need some encouragement, click here. This was our next to last lesson in Ruth. Next week will be our last lesson!

What do you do when the holiday is hard to celebrate? Share with us! (Leave a comment.)

Dig deep. Live fully. You are loved.

Thankful for Jesus and for you,


PS. If this was encouraging, and you don’t want to miss any Bite of Bread reading plans and posts, subscribe today! You’ll receive a 22-Day Devotion on Psalm 119 called Finding the Beauty {Full} in God’s Word.Just click here to dig deep to live fully. 🙂 

P.S.S Christmas Gift Ideas (Yikes! It’s Here!)

So . . .do you have a hard time thinking of what to say when your family asks you what you want for Christmas? (I do!) Here’s some ideas:

Beauty for Ashes Women’s Retreat March 7-9, 2020. (It’s a gift that has potential to change your life. Check out the page and find out more! Registration is open.)

A Massage at Me Time: Massage therapy for women

Mended: Restoring the hearts of mothers and  daughters, by Blythe Daniel and Helen Macintosh (mother and daughter)

The Art of Hard Conversations: Biblical tools for tough talks that matter, by Lori Stanley Roeleveld

The Book of Ruth Key Word Bible Study: A 31 Day Journey to Hope and Promise, by Andy Lee :)

A Mary Like Me: Flawed Yet Called, by Andy Lee

I Will Be Found By You, by Francis Frangipane

Fashioned to Reign: Empowering Women to Fulfill Their Divine Destiny, by Kris Valloton

Leave a comment with other gift ideas!

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  1. […] of Biblical words. Andy Lee, one of my favorite authors, feeds my curiosity in her Word Wednesday blog. Appropriately, she examined the word ‘thanks’ in Psalm 107 for the week of […]

  2. […] Andy shares 5 Things to Do If Celebrating Thanksgiving Is Hard This Year. […]

  3. I have so much to be thankful for and God’s goodness is at the top of the list. Thank you for a beautiful reminder.

    Stopping by from Coffee for Your Heart. God bless you!

    1. Thanks Connie! So glad you stopped by. Blessings!

  4. Love these words of encouragement!! I know there will be days I’ll need to refer back to this advice.

    1. So glad you could visit today. I’m so glad you were encouraged. Blessings!

  5. Great ideas for celebrating Thanksgiving when it may be hard. Adjusting to changing traditions due to the loss of our loved ones is always so difficult. Thank you for the reminders to give ourselves permission to have a low-key day and rest in the goodness of God. Blessings to you!

    1. Thanks Valerie! Thanks for stopping by. Have a blessed holiday of thanks. Blessings to you too!

  6. I needed that! Really. This is my first Thanksgiving without both of my parents, so my husband and I are going to cook food for the shelter. Thanks for sharing my post about letting to. It’s good for my words to come back around to remind me.

    1. So glad this blessed you JoAnne! Loved sharing your post here, and I love that you are serving at the shelter. Love you, friend!

  7. A beautiful post, Andy! I love that you make room at your table for other families who may be unable to gather with their own families for Thanksgiving, as well. Isn’t that what it’s all about?

    “I thank the Lord for those good memories, and then I let go, as best I can, to make room for new memories.” Yes and amen! There is a true beauty in the letting go, in order to make room for…

    Great ideas for celebrating the holidays when it might be a hard year. Thanks for sharing your heart!

    -Blessed to be your neighbor at Grit Up this morning. ;)

    1. Thanks Rachel! So glad you could stop by from the Grit Up!

  8. Annie

    Love this Andy! Thank you for sharing your heart.

    1. Thanks Annie! Hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving with your family.

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