Thanksgiving is one of my favourite long weekends. We get to visit friends, we get to visit family, and most of all we get to enjoy loads and loads of pumpkin pie! Or, pumpkin spice everything else.
Yet, what can be an exciting time of connection and fellowship with friends and family for some, can also be a time of fear and dread and apprehension. As I have written about previously, many people enter any holiday with the idea of Fantasy Bonding, or the expectation of what holidays should and must look like to be a success. Anything falling short of that expectation is declared to be a mishap, a failure, or devastation. Therefore, the holidays can become a quagmire of trepidation and cautious optimism.
Over the last 2 years, families have been through enormous amounts of stress with the Covid-19 pandemic and lockdown. What was a benefit for many families became very difficult for other families, relationships were created and relationships were destroyed. Some of these wounds still have not healed, as families look for ways to re-engage and reconnect with each other.
I always insist that connection starts within the family, between parents, guardians, caregivers and children, and then ripples out from there. For this holiday season, I encourage everyone to use this opportunity to strengthen pre-established connections and reconnect with any connections that have been damaged.
If we feel lost or alone this season, if we have lost friends or family in our lives, then I would encourage people to build connections with new friends and other people in the community. Consider donating time to food banks or other organizations that could really appreciate and utilize volunteer help, or plan activities that encourage gatherings and get-togethers. These will go a long way to establishing connections, family (whatever that may look like), and help stabilize your own environments and by default your own mental health.
Last but not least, we can always utilize this time to set aside and give thanks for what is most important to us and express gratitude and appreciation. Research shows time and time again that the expression of gratitude goes a long way in protecting mental health, alleviating the symptoms of anxiety and depression, and encouraging positive thinking.
Growing up farm, Thanksgiving always marked the end of the harvest, and nothing said a job well done like grandma’s fresh baked pumpkin pie, with huge dollops of whipping cream. What a sweet reward.
Come heal, grow and create together