Thanksgiving is a time of year where we begin the holiday season with the traditions of family gatherings, enjoyable food, travel, a variety of activities and some down time. Hopefully, we have the opportunity to reflect on the many blessings in our lives which includes those friends and family members that are close to us throughout the year.
I particularly appreciate experiencing the beginnings of a season of giving. It is encouraging to see all the meals that are donated and provided to those who have very little. Churches, non-profits and civic organizations are so gracious to children and families all throughout our region. There are also the campaigns for Christmas giving to children all over the world through many organizations who are involved in the lives of some of the poorest children in the world. Whether it is coats for the children of Greater Philadelphia or toys for children who are suffering with physical ailments, it is a great time to spend some of our resources for those in great need.
I also recognize that there are those who have significant losses of loved ones who we miss in our celebrations. Their legacies and memories remain. In these moments their life impact reverberates in our hearts and in our families. It can be a time of wonderful reflection combined with grief and loss. There are a lot of mixed emotions.
Another reality is that Thanksgiving can be a time of stress and sometimes trauma. The preparations for all that goes on can be incredibly stressful. Emotions and conflict can be part of what families experience. For individuals who have been impacted by childhood trauma the holiday memories can be quite devastating. The holiday season can be one big trigger to those childhood conflicts, adversities and losses. It can promote anxiety, depression, general irritability and other difficult emotions. If we have individuals who are experiencing those emotions in our families and friend groups, it is important that we have raised awareness of their emotions as we listen to and support them.
What is both hopeful and affirming is that spending time together, supporting each other, providing the warmth and love of family and building relationship is both encouraging and healing. Whether we are busy making meals, giving to others, working through conflicts and losses or re-experiencing traumatic memories one gift we can give to each other is the strength and compassion of a family that accepts us for who we are. Validating and appreciating our uniqueness, depth of relationship and positive impact with each other is probably the biggest blessing that we can experience as families. It is the power of love in action around the table of appreciation that can be life-giving and strengthening to us all! It is a great way to begin the holiday season as we intentionally support and nurture those who are most close to us.
I wish you and your family a wonderful Thanksgiving Day and holiday season! I hope it will be a season of family love and encouragement!