Being Present Even When You’re Apart

What will Thanksgiving look like for you this year? Will your family gatherings look as they usually do, or will they be much smaller or perhaps even take place via video chat or phone call? It’s a question that families across the nation are facing, taking into account local guidelines, the number of Covid cases in their area, and each family’s comfort level with in-person gatherings.

No matter what form your Thanksgiving dinner takes this year, you can still find ways to give thanks and find hope amidst the difficulties of the 2020 holidays.

It’s important to reach out to our family members even if we aren’t able to see them in person, says the Most Rev. Brenden Cahill, bishop of the Diocese of Victoria, Texas. Many of our neighbors and loved ones, especially the elderly, may be suffering from loneliness during this time.

“We can’t, maybe, have the large gathering, but maybe I can offer a spiritual offering or a sacrifice and with the technology of Zoom or the telephone to call, to talk, to keep in touch and to really spend time with people,” said Bishop Cahill.

He spoke about his habit of using phone calls for “business” purposes, to get things done and to make plans. But he stressed the need for each of us to slow down and set aside extra time to call our friends and family and ask them how they’re doing. Then we need to really listen to them and be available to provide them with emotional and spiritual support.

The holidays are an important time to be together, yet even when you can’t sit down face-to-face with the ones you love due to distance or safety concerns, you can find ways to be there for one another.

How else might we be present for our loved ones during the holidays? If you live nearby but can’t meet in person, drop off a meal on the front porch or stop by for a smile and a wave through the window. Pray for your family members and offer your suffering on their behalf.

This is a difficult time for families, as everyone works to navigate an unprecedented situation in which each person has a different comfort level and idea of what is safe or not. It’s a time to give extra grace and understanding, and to respect the wishes of those we love while also ensuring that we do our best to be there for them in this period of isolation and loneliness.

We must also look at the bigger picture, especially when 2020 weighs on us and gets us down. As Bishop Cahill reminds us, “God has sent us Jesus Christ, His Son as a Savior, to bring us healing and hope in the midst of even the suffering we have.”

Hear more from Bishop Cahill:

Tune in to Morning Air® weekdays at 5-8am CT only on Relevant Radio®.

Lindsey is a wife, mother, and contributing author at Relevant Radio. She holds a degree in Journalism and Advertising from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Lindsey enjoys writing, baking, and liturgical living with her young family.