Thanksgiving traditions are meaningful. This was always the most important holiday when I was growing up. The religious holidays could cause strife because my family members held a wide variety of beliefs about God and religion. Some in my family believed God was a powerful Her.

And some didn’t believe in any God at all, which enraged those who thought He was with us even in the bathroom. I remember my grandmother explaining how as a young girl (in the early days of the 20th century) she was taught to wash without touching herself. Which I always thought meant that prayers alone kept her clean. My grandmother also didn’t eat tomatoes, having been taught that tomatoes (love apples, she called them) were poisonous, and that bananas could keep you going when medicine failed. She lived to be 96, all beliefs intact.

Christmas and Chanukah were hot button holidays; Easter and Passover were hot button holidays; Halloween and Valentine’s Day were also hot button holidays. All of them presented a wide variety of potential bogs of dogma in which to fall. The last two were particular stressors for us kids because trick or treat was considered begging and sugar was prohibited.  With all the things that were no-nos in my family, only Thanksgiving was absolutely pure. And always the most joyous. Love, gratitude, and forgiveness were the hallmarks of Thanksgiving then, and they still can be.

How To Find Peace And Joy In A Day That Brings Painful Reminders of All That Isn’t.

These days are more complicated for everyone. Families are scattered and often deeply hurt by separations that occur for so many reasons. Work and living far away, military service. Schooling; and sadly the heartbreaking separations, both emotional and actual, that addiction so often brings. Native Americans, who have suffered so much as a result of colonization, also find the celebration of Thanksgiving a painful reminder.

Here are some of the ways to keep the old traditions alive.

  1. Share your Thanksgiving with others. It doesn’t matter if you gather friends from work or church or meetings or the gym, or anywhere. Sharing your table, or just being with others, can bring joy. It’s a real kindness to offer comfort to others who may also be missing a happy family as much as you do.
  2. Remember the good times. Often we get into the habit of thinking only of what we’ve lost and how terrible that loss is. But even when the losses seem unbearable, it’s okay to celebrate the love and happiness of the past. Corny but true: Remembering happiness with an open heart can lead us there again.
  3. Be Grateful for what is. This is the most basic, and maybe the most important, quality of recovery. When you enjoy a meal, or never miss a sunrise, or find beauty in the rain, you have something for which to be grateful. Saying thank you is the first step on the path to whatever you want to be, and wherever you want to go.

Happy Thanksgiving from all of us at ROR. Sending Love and Blessing and Prayers to all who are impacted by addiction.

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Leslie Glass

Leslie Glass became a recovery advocate and co-founder of Reach Out Recovery in 2011, encouraged by her daughter Lindsey who had struggled with substances as a teen and young adult. Learning how to manage the family disease of addiction with no roadmap to follow inspired the mother and daughter to create Reach Out Recovery's website to help others experiencing the same life-threatening problems. Together they produced the the 2016 ASAM Media Award winning documentary, The Secret World of Recovery, and the teen prevention documentary, The Silent Majority, distributed by American Public Television. Leslie is also the creator of Recovery Guidance, the information website for those seeking addiction and mental healthcare for professionals nationwide. In her career, Leslie has worked in advertising, publishing, and magazines as a writer of both fiction and non fiction. She is the author of 9 bestselling crime novels, featuring NYPD Dt.Sgt. April Woo. Leslie has has served as a Public Member of the Middle States Commission of Higher Education and as a Trustee of the New York City Police Foundation. For from 1990 to 2017, Leslie was the Trustee of the Leslie Glass Foundation.

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