Let This Thanksgiving Be A Time Of Healing - Back To The Fold

I was 75% into a non-traditional, yet festive Thanksgiving Day blog when the words just stopped. It was light and frivolous and very likely to show up one day soon. But it didn’t fit my mood. Originally I wasn’t going to do one at all. People are busy today. Plus there is really nothing new under the sun about the holiday. We know the origins. We are all extremely grateful for our blessings. We live an abundant and wonderful life all things considered. But something kept nagging in the back of my brain. So I decided to just relax a minute and see what else came through my turkey and pumpkin pie haze. So for the next few minutes, without too much filter or editing, I’m going to just speak (aka type) from my heart.

Thanksgiving (and the holiday season in general) is about family. Friends. Gathering and Celebration. We all put on our best and fresh faces and garments. Pull the finest china and goblets from the back of the hutch. Light the candles. We look around at the happy faces and stuffed bellies and feel accomplished and satisfied. All of those things are wonderful. Meaningful. Excellent. But I dare say in many gatherings today, there will be someone missing from the fold. Someone, who at one time was welcomed at the table to share a slice of ham or cranberry sauce. So where are they today? Do we know? Do we want to know? Am I depressing you and ruining the holiday?

There are empty place settings around certain tables because of the ultimate loss. For those I am truly saddened and my sympathies are abundant. It has been several holidays now for me without my mom or my dad. There are those missing because of work or distance or other obligations. But those are not the ones I’m referring to. I am asking each of us to consider the proverbial lost sheep.

Individuals get disconnected from families for a variety of reasons. It can be a bad decision. They took a path that was not in line with the family values. They got lost in a place that seemed shiny on the outside but painful and dark on the inside. Maybe they want to escape but don’t know how. Maybe they chose partners or associates that made the family uncomfortable. Unfortunately biases and misconceptions exact a high price. The resulting toll quite damaging.  

It could be because of hurt feelings. Something said last week or 20 years ago. Often words no one even remembers. How common is that? Feuds and angry feelings fester and are passed down and the original slight cannot even be recalled. Or maybe it can be recalled. Maybe it is heard in the back of your mind every day.

I do not have any real answers. I understand some transgressions are severe and cannot just be ‘forgotten’. Wise people choose to leave a bad situation because it is the healthiest thing for them. Those decisions I applaud and encourage. It takes a brave soul to rebuild and heal yourself. At times doing it all alone.  

However occasionally it is just plain stubbornness that keeps us apart. The unwillingness to forgive or ask for forgivness. Squaring off at a virtual line with each party just waiting for the other one to flinch. Is it really that monumental and earth shattering? Is it worth years of separation and fracture?

Here is my suggestion. If at any point in reading this someone crossed your mind then stop a minute to consider them. Is there a path to reconnect? Today could be the perfect opportunity to reach out with a phone call or text. Say Hello. Say I Love You. Say I’m Sorry. Say I Forgive You. Say something…. Who knows, maybe they were there holding their phone wanting to do the same thing.

And if you are the one alone today or feel estranged, please know this. There are times when standing alone is the hardest yet greatest gift you can give yourself. Find friends and like-minded individuals who can and will support you. But if you have left the family fold and regret it and want back in…. Take action. It is never too late. Again, be brave. Stir up the courage to be humble enough to admit a mistake. Let today be a fresh start.  

Please, please do not let these few words put a damper on your festivities. Maybe they were just meant for me. Maybe there is someone missing from my table. Maybe I am the preacher AND the choir. But if just one person reading this reaches out to a loved one today… then for THAT I will be truly THANKFUL.