Persons, places and things: Nourishing love from the microwave


On Black Friday, my husband Steve, our sons Colin and Patrick and I sat down to a Thanksgiving dinner reheated from the microwave — turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, green bean casserole and rolls. The leftovers came from the meal Steve, Colin and I enjoyed at my parents’ home on Thanksgiving Day in the Twin Cities. Patrick was unable to join us. On Black Friday, we offered a prayer of thanks to be together and Steve dubbed the night “Thanksgiving 2.0.”


I felt torn to leave Patrick behind to spend Thanksgiving alone but also longed to see my parents in person and traveling to be with them was the only option. My brother Tim and sister-in-law Carleen and the eldest of their two children, Ryan, celebrated Thanksgiving with us at Mom and Dad’s house and enjoyed each other’s company, sharing stories and memories of our lives.

We felt the absence of our missing children — Tim and Carleen’s daughter, Rachel, who lives out West and texted photos of herself and a friend preparing Thanksgiving dinner, and Patrick, who texted his greetings before dining on pizza. We also missed the presence of my other brothers, Pat and Brian, and their families who live a long distance away.

Our story may have played out in countless households across the nation. AAA predicted an estimated 53.4 million Americans would travel over the Thanksgiving holiday. Contributing to that estimate is the wide availability of coronavirus vaccines and a desire to resume normal activities during this ongoing pandemic (The Washington Post, Nov. 19). Ironically, reports of a new, worrisome variant of the coronavirus hit the print and social media circuits Thanksgiving weekend.


I wondered how many other families were missing loved ones because of obligations that kept them away or because of death, illness or estrangement. My prayers included these families and individuals. Many people joke about Thanksgiving as a hazardous holiday because family and relatives sitting together at the table may end up arguing over politics and grudges. The 2020 presidential election helped me to see clearly that nurturing and maintaining a loving relationship with family requires persistent prayer, humble listening and reflection. Family, not political allegiance, must be my priority.

“We are born beloved creatures of our Creator, God of love, into a world that has lived long before us,” Pope Francis says in “Let Us Dream.” “We belong to God and to one another, and we are part of creation. And from this understanding, grasped by the heart, must flow our love for each other, a love not earned or bought because all we are and have is unearned gift.” The Holy Father is speaking about all of humanity, but his message also applies to the family into which we are born, adopted or fostered.

Putting love into practice may require sacrifices and compromises, which at times can feel painful or unsettling. Patrick had Thanksgiving Day and Black Friday off, but his second-shift schedule and the distance to his grandparents’ home did not align with other obligations we had for the weekend. We are thankful he has a job following the settlement of a labor dispute, and grateful that we celebrated as a family after the actual holiday. The physical presence and aroma of the leftovers connected us in a spiritual way to the Thanksgiving meal in my parents’ home. Love nourished us both evenings.
(Contact Editor Barb Arland-Fye at

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