At Thanksgiving, an empty table can be filled.
Celebrating with friends and family is a joy that comes into your life, sometimes as a learned experience. If you did not come from a celebration loving family, you might not even know what you could be missing.
Today we have experienced a change in how families interact. Couples might live farther away from their parents, distance making it difficult to meet for celebrations. There might be a pattern established in the household of travel at holiday time, where family might take a trip instead of gathering at a family home.
The family does not always eat together in this society on a daily basis. If you are not used to sharing a meal daily or even on the weekends, the idea of gathering for a sit down meal on a holiday might not appeal as a trip to Hawaii to surf and be in the sun.
Where we are today has been a journey built over time, as each decade of modernizations allowed us to be be less dependent on each other and our families as a unit.
There is something in human nature that encourages people to seek each other out and to share experiences together. I think that belonging is part of our genetic make up, to a point. It is something that has probably been evolutionized over time. I think of all the ways we experience belonging, family, houses of worship, sororities, fraternities, country clubs, bowling leagues, unions, and professional associations. These are just what comes to mind now.
Acknowledging the need to be together, to share something in life is a real, ongoing, continuing adventure. Sometimes we know who we are sharing with, sometimes we don't. We need the skills to interact when we are thrown together by tragedy or joy with people on the street, in our communities and even at work. We can learn those skills as young people in our nuclear families, in our schools and where we interact with our peers or elders.
Sometimes we learn how to experience holidays from classmates, or friends, or significant others. We get adopted into the experiences that they might cherish and we become a part of that shared experience.
The grace with which this is accomplished is up to us. The grace shown to us is paramount to how the continued experience goes forward.
If you have the opportunity to gather around a table later this month to celebrate Thanksgiving, be especially welcoming to the girlfriend, the boyfriend, the foreign student, the aged uncle, the recently widowed aunt, the soldier, the sailor, the neighbor across the street and whomever else ends up at the table you are sharing. Their experience with you, in the bosom of your family, loved ones, or dear friends, might make them a little nervous.This experience can even change their life, as sometimes events seemingly routine or insignificant actually can. Remembering that we all want to belong in some way, that we all want this gathering as possibly part of what makes us human, helps take the edge off it for me. I open my door based on the traditions that were a part of my growing up, I share in my Thanksgiving.
Copyright 2011 by SheilaTGTG55