As another Thanksgiving has come and gone, I wonder why more thanks aren’t given throughout the entire year. Sure, having a day to commemorate thanks is an iconic and classic American tradition, but something we should all aim to do every day in between this Thanksgiving and the next.
The holidays are typically a great time to relax, reflect, and maybe even catch up on a hobby you’ve been neglecting. That is until you realize the immense amount of stress putting together a Thanksgiving feast for an entire family requires. Firstly, where is the holiday going to be spent? Who’s home? It could very well be the difference in you making just a side dish or a three-course meal. That being said, let’s say this year you decide to host Thanksgiving. Unfortunately, many people place undue stress and anxiety on themselves to create a picture-perfect idea of what they believe Thanksgiving to be.
In all actuality, Thanksgiving is a time for tradition and, most importantly, as the namesake suggests, thanks. The holidays are a team effort, and no person should be taking care of everything alone. How can you help your parents or grandparents around the holidays? If someone made you food, a great way to show appreciation is by doing the dishes afterward. Maybe before the meal, you can help prepare the plates or set the table, as I used to do with my Grandmother growing up. Regardless, this time should be spent enjoying family and not pondering who completed what task.
If your family is like mine, it’s big on tradition. Growing up, we had many traditions ranging from Thanksgiving to Christmas. As a child, we always went to my Grandmother and Grandfather’s house for Thanksgiving. My Grandma was a wonderful cook and would put the most delectable of meals together. Thanksgiving day was no different, as she made turkey, potatoes, sweet potatoes, green bean casserole, stuffing, gravy, and more, as we washed it all down with her delicious iced tea. My family would help out where we could, with my Mom coming down early in the morning on the day of to help my Grandma get everything squared away.
Over the years, the traditions became more evident to me. Little things I noticed became traditions, such as the same food we ate and china plates we used every year, to the candles we lit before the meal, and even the way we waited until the evening for our full belly’s to empty a little, that way we could squeeze in a slice of pumpkin pie. All of these traditions came together to make beautiful memories and experiences I’ll never forget. I remember them as if they were yesterday, and I’ll cherish them forever. But more than any other tradition, the one that stood above the rest was how my family would go around the table before the meal, and each person would say what they were thankful for throughout the previous year.
It was an honest, open, and free-spoken moment filled with thankfulness for the great times, coupled with a difficult understanding of the unfortunate ones. Yet, all of the family being together in that one moment, to hear the ups and downs each individual dealt with throughout the year, somehow lessened the pain of the arduous times. It’s because we all knew in that very moment, no matter what had gone on in our lives over the past year, we were all thankful to be there with one another. It was as if all of us holding hands as we shared our innermost thoughts gave us power, and it did. We knew we were there for each other as a family, and, even if just for a brief moment, nothing else mattered, and I’ll never forget that.
As with many of you this year, my holidays won’t be the same due to the virus. Holidays have already been different this past handful of years due to the passing of my Grandparents. It completely changed the dynamic of our holidays and made everything feel strange. My family is a resilient bunch, and as such, we’ve scratched and clawed to make the most normal of holidays we could over that time. With the virus playing a role this year, it appears my holidays will feel more displaced than ever before. However, I can do my best to be grateful for what I do have.
Now is the time to lean into those childhood memories and experiences you’ve held dear to your heart, to relish in the conversations you had with loved ones, and in many ways, recreate them. Of course, it won’t be the same, it’s not meant to be. This year I made my first ever Thanksgiving dinner, and I know my Grandparents are so proud. I continued our tradition of stating aloud what I was thankful for over the past year, as did my girlfriend, and at that moment, my whole family was with me, in my heart and spirit.
It was very tough not to spend Thanksgiving with my parents this year, and I know many of you dealt with this same reality. But don’t let your fear of missed memories wipe out the ones you’ve already made and rob you of the ones you can make. Give thanks for each of them, not just one day out of the year, but everyone in between. True thankfulness resides in giving thanks for the memories you have, are, and will make in the future.