As the year comes to a close, I suppose it is natural to have thoughts and conversations drift toward the holidays.  After all, within the span of just two months, our nation celebrates Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas and the New Year.  Various faiths and cultures add several more celebrations to that list.  What the celebrations have in common are sharing.

A couple of weeks ago, as we gathered for our weekly staff meeting, the subject of Wisconsin’s two great November holidays came up, Thanksgiving and deer hunting.  We all shared concerns about how different the holiday gatherings would be this year because of COVID, if indeed there were gatherings at all.

This week at lunch, we started talking about decorating the Center for Christmas, and that conversation soon evoked memories of childhood Christmas traditions.  Some of us shared fond memories; other shared stories, like JustBob recalling how much as a child he dreaded having to string popcorn and cranberries for the annual tree-trimming.

Today, the staff and residents all gathered for a group photo and shared a pizza lunch instead of our usual staff meeting.  Kim offered to prepare a Thanksgiving dinner for the staff during the week of Thanksgiving, so that those who would not be gathering with family as usual could at least share a traditional meal with our “family” here.  She also shared a gratitude calendar for the month of November which had daily suggestions for ways we could each recognize and acknowledge people and things we were grateful for.

It is not yet November, but it is never too early to share our gratitude for blessings received, like this “family” at St. Anthony’s.  Instead of living in isolation throughout this unusual year, I have had housemates to keep me company; brothers and sisters with whom I can interact, pray and work; work that gives me purpose; and shared memories that draw us all closer together as one family of God.

For all the blessings of shared food, shared memories and shared sisterhood and brotherhood, we say Deo Gratias!