By Brandon Campanella

I’m going to be honest, I am not really looking forward to Thanksgiving this year. Perhaps, it is a nostalgia thing. Those big get togethers with the whole family we had when I was a kid just don’t happen anymore. The family is more spread out, we all have commitments, and life has just gotten too busy. It makes me wonder how my parents were able to do it all, but I guess that is was just another time.
Probably the real reason I’m lacking in excitement for Thanksgiving is that my wife and I will be without our girls. You see, we are one of those modern families; we both came into the marriage with a daughter of our own. We split the holidays every year, luckily though our wonderful daughters are on the same schedule. Please, understand that this is not to diminish their other families. If there is one thing I am truly grateful for it is knowing that when they are not with us, they are loved and cared for. Their other families are both great, and I know that they feel the longing and heartache when they are with us. However, knowing that does not take away the sadness.
And I know there are many in the same situation as ours, or worse. Growing up with my father in the military, I remember that he always made it a point to invite other service men and women over to our home. He was also cognizant enough to explain to my sister and me why he was doing so. Explaining that the holidays were the toughest times for those toughest of Americans who were thousands of miles away from their families. (He was stationed in Mainz, Germany at the time.)
There are families out there who will never spend Thanksgiving with their loved ones again, and the holidays make the grief even more bitter.
I understand there are Dads and Moms just trying to figure out how they can provide for their children during this season.
It’s hard not being with those you love, but joy and thankfulness can still be found in these trying times. Psalms 9:1 states “I will give thanks to you, LORD, with all my heart; I will tell of your wonderful deeds.”
One of the underlying themes in the book of Psalms is joy – regardless of circumstance, thankfulness for what one has – regardless of the situation. That is something we see and hear King David exemplify time and time again throughout his poetry. When David was at his lowest, throughout his toughest struggles, he kept an eternal perspective and rejoiced in the Lord.
Maintaining a spirit of thanksgiving and joy during tough times may look like an oxymoron to some. But, we must remember that joy is not the same as happiness. Happiness is fleeting, momentary. Joy is a deeply-rooted state of being that is not affected by situations or circumstances. This joy is only possible when we are connected to our Lord, when we are looking to Him for all things and at all times.
As I was told recently, we must find joy in all things. We can choose to be thankful for the simple, the everyday, and the ordinary.
And that is what I am going to do this week. I have so much to be thankful for. God has blessed me with a wonderful wife, two amazing daughters, two other amazing families who also call our girls ‘daughter,’ and love and care for them deeply. The joy that I have is stronger than any circumstance I may be presented with. My prayer is that you can find this joy, be thankful, and share it with others.
Remember that true joy is only found in God through Jesus Christ, God the Son. Not in people, or material possessions, or anything else this world offers. Remind yourself this week of what God has done for you. Praise Him and lift Him up in thanksgiving. And in all things, remember to treat others with love.

This year, have a joyful Thanksgiving!