It seems we live in a society where most of our meals are eaten on the couch, in the car or skipped entirely. Sitting together at a table seems to be a faded picture from a different time.

When I think of Thanksgiving, my soul smiles when I remember the privilege of sharing time with loved ones around the table. Some years the table has been very small; other years, card tables have been pushed together with mixed matched chairs, with a designated kiddy table and adult table. We have eaten everything from a traditional feast to burgers on the grill; potlucks to counting myself lucky that a restaurant was open because we were too tired to cook.

I recall most the feeling of love and thankfulness more than what was said, what size clothing I was in, if there were enough little marshmallows on the sweet potato casserole or if the house was clean. And, yes, although I don’t recall the words of the prayer around the table, I do distinctly remember my heart beating a little faster as we held hands and praised God.

Some of those hands have gotten bigger as kids grow, some have added class rings and wedding bands; other hands have gotten wrinkles and some I won’t be able to hold again as they have their feast in heaven. Oh, how I miss those hands.

If I could describe my life in one word, it would be thankful. Thankful that God counted a foolish girl like me worthy enough to invite me to His eternal table. My worth is not based on my acts, but on the selfless act of Jesus on the cross. And the same is true for you. Grace. I suppose that is why we say grace at the table.

This time of year I become keenly aware of just how much Jesus has done, does and is still doing. He doesn’t leave us to push through alone…to absorb the pressure of living into our best days and surviving our worst. Instead, He sets the table and invites us to pull up a chair. He takes us as we are; often broken and weary, and sets a fresh plate before us. And when we look upon this plate, it is Jesus’ reflection we see, not ours, because this is how Jesus sees us when we draw near to Him. Yes, the closer we are to our Savior the more we reflect His love, strength, peace and joy. Saving grace.

Many are spiritually malnourished. We take on the task of creating a life without following the recipe for true living. We vacillate between cheery and disappointed, often wondering why some answers come as brutal blows and others don’t come at all. We rarely stop to take the hand of the One who knows the way. Leaning into His company and giving thanks become special occasions or moments of desperation. Yes, we fight against ourselves, feeding upon status and relational harmony, until one day we realize our plate is as empty as our soul.

We look at our hands and see we have aged in a fallen world, and notice that time has a way of rearranging views… physical, emotional and spiritual. We learn that heartbeats don’t pulse for a moment but once. Some memories we push away; others, we cheat today by attempting to resuscitate yesterday. And as we assess the whole of our lives, we realize we are both living and dying simultaneously. Life and death come to self in the physical and spiritual; emotionally we react to life according to the health of both. We often walk around craving something that sustains us just as much as it satisfies; not realizing the table is set, and Jesus is waiting.

So no matter where or how you are celebrating Thanksgiving this year, take time to pull up a chair to the family table of Christ Jesus and sit with Him for a while… giving thanks for it all. Yes, for it all. Turn to your left and to your right and give thanks to those who support you and love you. Look ahead with hope, trusting Jesus to provide. If you stop to look behind you, may it be just to see how far God has taken you.

And let us not forget to say grace. Yes, saving grace.

SGLY, dear reader.

(Smile, God Loves You.)

Tiffany Kaye Chartier is a Christian author and opinion columnist. You can find her newly released books, “H.E.R.O. Faith” and “Bad Disciples” on Amazon. To submit feedback on SGLY, please contact news@amtrib. com.