What a great time of the year. The weather cools while the family gathers around. Each Thanksgiving we marvel at the amount of food on the table in front of us and are grateful for the love that is all around us. So, yes… HAPPY THANKSGIVING!
Or is it? Thanksgiving is supposed to be what I just described but for so many, that isn’t the case. We throw the greeting around without thinking about those we meet and talk to, especially our friends. “HAPPY Thanksgiving! Are you going to have a big get together at your place this year?” The only problem with that is that many won’t be having a Happy Thanksgiving or a get together surrounded by friends and family.
While many of us will be trying to figure out how to fit all the food on the table, many, many others, yes…even some of your friends that you would never imagine, have little or no food. Imagine instead of turkey, looking in a mostly bare refrigerator and deciding between what’s left of the bologna or a can of soup. Sounds like I’m overstating it? I’m not.
While we are surrounded by family, watching TV, talking, arguing and napping…many, many others are alone, shielding themselves from the Happy Thanksgiving greeting and maybe even the phone calls, surrounded by only memories of loved ones who aren’t here anymore, pets who were loyal friends and are now gone, past Thanksgiving memories some good, some not so good.
So, what can we do?
Well, the first thing is to seriously ask ourselves that very question.
Let’s be honest here, most people might ask the question, but won’t follow through on it. They’re the people who’ll say they “wish they could help” or “isn’t it too bad about…” However, if you’re reading this, my guess is that you’re not one of those people. My guess is that you’re one of the people in the world who really does care. So, here are some suggestions for you. (If you have more ideas how to help, please leave a comment in the section below so others can see it too!)
Reach out to friends who are alone, elderly, disabled, families who are isolated, etc. Just say hello! Tell them that you were thinking of them. Ask them if they’d come over for dinner because it would mean a lot to you. Now keep in mind, some of these people might jump at the chance, but many of them will say no. They might feel inadequate or embarrassed, scared or they might be in pain. If this is the case, don’t push it, tell them how much it would mean to you again and how nice it was to talk with them. A few days later call and try again…
Send a note with a nice wish on it. Opening an actual card or letter means more than you’ll ever know when you’re feeling absolutely alone.
Make up a plate of food from your Thanksgiving “feast” and unannounced, drop it by their house.
There are a million more ways to show that you care instead of just saying that you do. Find ways that fit for you and for those in your life. (If you have more ideas how to help, please leave a comment in the section below so others can see it too!)
Now, if you’re one of the people who is feeling alone and isolated this Thanksgiving, there are a couple of things I want you to know.
First of all – You Are Not Alone! There are many, many others feeling the same you do. And, what you’re feeling are things that most others can’t understand because they aren’t you. But you have some responsibilities too…
It’s up to you to reach out. It seems so safe and sometimes even “right” to collapse inward. But even though it might feel “right,” it isn’t “true.” You don’t have to spend the Holiday at someone’s house, but reach out with a phone call to wish them a Happy Thanksgiving. Reach out to them to tell them they matter or you’re thinking of them or say thank you for something they’ve done. Even a little socializing with others will be good for you.
Your feelings are controlled by you but sometimes you need help. That is OK! Friends, family, support groups or crisis lines are there to help. Asking for help is not a sign of weakness. Asking for help is one of the greatest signs of strength there is.
Finally, if you’re missing a loved one or a pet, talk to them…out loud…talk to them! You’re not crazy, more people do this than you’d ever imagine. Put a voice to your fear or sadness. When you start talking to them, instead of about them, that means you’re making progress.
My hope is that all of us, no matter our financial, physical, mental or spiritual situation, have the best Thanksgiving we can. The scale will be different for each of us. But one thing is for sure – If we do our best to reach out with kindness, gratitude and love, then isn’t that what the Holiday is all about anyway? If we honestly allow others to see we care, isn’t that called love? If we do our best to accept the love, kindness and gifts that others want to give us, not due to charity, but out of friendship and caring, isn’t that the absolute definition of Thanksgiving? Finding a way truly to feel gratitude, then show it, then share your gratitude. This will give you the best Happy Thanksgiving you’ve ever had…