Singer Ben Rec­tor’s new single “The Thanks­giving Song” came out on Oct. 27. | Facebook

I was on day one of quar­antine when I heard Ben Rector’s new release: “The Thanks­giving Song.”

 I’ve always been a fan. He was Tulsa born and bred. And while I’m not an Oklahoma native, I was neighbors with him for a time. He lived down the street from my childhood home, and we went to the same school. Too bad I was only a first grader when he was around. I probably would’ve loved for the cutest music boy in school to ask for my number.

 Turns out the junior with the guitar would become everyone else’s favorite, too. Though the Chicago Tribune coined him as the guy who “knows you’ve probably never heard of him” in 2017, people have figured him out since then. Seven studio albums later, Ben Rector hit the top 10 in the Bill­board 200 with his album, “Brand New,” and topped the Bill­board American/Folk as number one with his “Magic” album. He’s a mix of pop and folk with a hint of nos­talgia — and people love it.

 In the words of Matt Bjorke from Rough Stock, “Ben Rector writes and sings songs that dance in your ears while the lyrics go straight to your heart.”

 “The Thanks­giving Song” is one of those songs. 

And in a year when so much has changed, Rector reminds us of the things that haven’t. As he writes in the opening lyrics, “Funny how this all looks dif­ferent, but it feels the same / Like our lives never stop changing / Some things never change.”

 Soft piano chords start off the song, which is typical Ben Rector.  It’s a simple ballad that tells a simple story: Thanks­giving is here again, and it’s a holiday that in many ways reminds us of both the con­sis­tencies and the changes in our lives — and those changes in the world around us. 

 Though the leaves have “turned brown,” they line a “familiar highway.” Seasons change, but many times, the drive home doesn’t. For Rector, that’s some­thing to be thankful for. More lyrics rem­i­nisce on familiar changes: “The old kids table all have kids of their own / Starting to see my grand­father in my nephew’s eyes / Mom still can’t talk about him and not almost cry.”

 For Rector, Thanks­giving is a time where the past, present, and future come together. His late grand­father lives through his nephew; the kids’ table is still around, but it’s filled with new — and younger — family members. Time­lessness and Thanks­giving dwell together.    

 The beat picks up, the chorus kicks in, and Ben Rector extends an invi­tation: “So fill your plates and fill your drinks and fill this house with family / The kind of love that all these years can’t wash away / The older that I get I see that life is short and bit­ter­sweet / Thank God for this Thanks­giving Day.”

 Many of us expe­ri­enced changes this year. The class of 2020 couldn’t finish their final semester. I have friends who couldn’t say goodbye to their grand­parents because of hos­pital restric­tions. A lot of us aren’t going home for Thanks­giving. The list could go on. 

 But Thanks­giving is still happening.

 The very exis­tence of a  “Thanks­giving Song” reminds us of a poignant truth: We aren’t at Christmas yet, but Thanks­giving is here, and that’s reason enough to cel­e­brate the com­forting famil­iarity that hasn’t gone by the wayside. 

Thanks­giving this year is a mile­stone — and a pan­demic is no match for its per­ma­nence, sig­nif­i­cance, and familiarity. 

 Maybe that’s what Rector was getting at. Of course, each Thanks­giving will be dif­ferent. Time passes, people change, and every moment that we live is uniquely and dis­tinctly beau­tiful. But we should savor the steadfast beauty and comfort that come with yearly holidays.

 I’m typ­i­cally one to reject the super­ficial aspects of hol­idays, and frankly, Thanks­giving is some­thing I don’t usually think twice about. It’s the week where I find a friend to go home with and eat good food. This year is dif­ferent. It’s now a time to revel in the familiar holiday we cel­e­brated last year, and though things might not be normal, there’s purpose in resting in a timeless pillar rooted in family, faith, and the blessings we often forget to remember. 

In an interview with the Okla­homan, Rector said, “When the song came together … I was like, ‘Man, what if this could become like THE Thanks­giving song?’” 

Maybe it will, and that might just be because he chooses to see “the longest year in history” (as he coined it) as an invi­tation to abound in grate­fulness for the things that haven’t changed.

 A few days after the “Thanks­giving Song,” Rector released some new Christmas songs. Maybe after you’ve lis­tened to this one, you can listen to those, too. Just wait until the day after Thanksgiving.