You can feel good on Thanksgiving even if you’re not feeling good in general. Here’s how. Our family traditions are meaningful, and Thanksgiving is a touchstone for family unity, even when it doesn’t exist. For my family, Thanksgiving was always the most important holiday. 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.
Religion made other holidays a mine field of potential conflict
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.
Thanksgiving made us all feel good
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.
Here’s How to feel good on Thanksgiving
These days holidays (and politics) are more complicated for everyone. Covid-19 is making everything difficult. 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 best old traditions alive
- 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. Ps. please do it safely according to your state’s guidelines around gatherings
- 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.
- 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.