I’ve always considered Thanksgiving to be the American holiday most closely associated with family. Tradition has bound this day so tightly with routines and expectations that for some it promises a cozy family closeness, while others find it difficult to breathe.
Food Is Only Half Of What’s Served At The Holiday Table
The holiday experience can be a mixed bag. Laughter and dysfunction circulate the dinner table as readily as green bean casserole and pumpkin pie. Cousin Joey gets more ribbing than the turkey can provide. “Remember when’s” pour out faster than the gravy Uncle Albert just spilled over Grandma’s heirloom tablecloth. Meanwhile, Mrs. Duncan from next door is just happy to be invited, smiling from her folded metal seat.
From their watchful chairs, the kids wire their brains faster than a master electrician. They’re mapping a path of traditions they’ll be expected to follow every time the skies turn gray and cold.
Traditions Feed Us The Routines And Family Connectivity We Crave
Traditions bind families together. It’s the mooring we seek from our hectic lives, something we regularly anticipate, a reminder that we belong.
Remember Mrs. Duncan from next door, smiling from her folded metal seat? She’s not with her traditional family. What’s her story? We automatically wonder.
We probably feel a measure of pity for her. After all, she’s not with her real family.
Or is she?
Nobody Wants To Watch From The Outside
Real families aren’t always bound by DNA and marriage contracts. Maybe Mrs. Duncan can’t afford to go to her family. Maybe she doesn’t want to. Maybe she no longer has one. A sense of loss might be tucked under that smile, the one that shows hope for happiness.
Is there a Mrs. Duncan at your table this holiday season? Maybe it’s you.
Reach out, share your story, learn about those around you. I hope you find the togetherness you seek, and I truly hope your holiday season is as joyful as you wish!
Who comprises your family this holiday season?