Football, Food, and Family: Thanksgiving in America
November 24, 2017
There is an ideal picture of the American Thanksgiving that portrays lots of food on a large table surrounded by multiple generations of family members.
Then, in more recent decades, before and after dinner: football.
In my family’s house, our father had a rare day off and Thanksgiving was one of them. He was glued to the television, watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade and then football games until dinner was ready.
Dinner was more food than anyone’s family could eat in one meal.
Afterward was the hangover from Thanksgiving dinner that led to dieting and the workouts we knew we should do, and promised to do, but that we postponed until after Christmas.
Holidays Evoke Happy and Sad Memories
Despite the persistent idealized portrait of Thanksgiving, for many, the holidays are not all happy, not all tradition-fulfilled, and not all fun.
Family dynamics play out on the holidays. Grief and sadness can be evoked by those missing at the table this year, those we’ve lost, and those we may be losing.
The holidays are even more difficult for patients in the hospital and their families.
Demonstrate Loving Kindness
How do we celebrate Thanksgiving in ways that are sensitive and compassionate, that acknowledges the bitter and the sweet? One that allows for both grief and celebration?
In times of personal, communal, or national trials, we can strive to find that place where gratitude helps fill the empty spaces created by loss. We can strive to go beyond ourselves to express and live a kind of empathy for those for whom the holidays are difficult.
We can demonstrate loving-kindness to those in our inner circle, our neighborhoods, and our communities.
For all of these reasons, I thank the caregivers who, every day, take care of patients in the hospital. For every one you may encounter, you are in service to help them hope rather than fear. I also thank all the first-responders and those who support, love, and care for them.
And I send to you the best of this year’s Thanksgiving and remind you that in the future lies hope and healing.
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