May everyone around your table have peace this Thanksgiving

It’s not uncommon for the holiday season to be a complex mixture of sweet and salty flavors. But ultimately, it’s all about love.

On Thursday, many of us will sit down with family and friends and enjoy a feast. Thanksgiving is one of the most celebrated American holidays; it’s one of my favorites, too.

It’s been a very tough couple of years: COVID-19, political divisiveness, economic uncertainty, climate changes and the war in Ukraine. Since March 2020, more than a million Americans have died from COVID-19. There are many grieving families. Their Thanksgiving will be hard.

Every Thanksgiving I like to ask each person at our table what they are thankful for during this last year. I loved to hear what the kids would say when they were little. I feel so fortunate in my life; I have good friends, a loving family and I get to have work that I love. I’m blessed with good health, despite the aches and pains of growing old. I’m particularly thankful that two of my grandchildren and my daughter live nearby. This year, I have much to appreciate.

The holidays can be stressful. Amid our thankfulness, family problems don’t disappear. Family tensions can be intensified when everyone is together, even when adults are on their best holiday behavior. Sitting at the table, piled high with turkey and stuffing, the complexities of family life may be sandwiched between the first and second course. Many families have vastly different political and social beliefs. It may be hard to let our love shine through those conflicting views, especially if adults are drinking too much alcohol. Let’s make Thanksgiving a politics-free zone.

Recent loss is intensified during the holidays. We miss loved ones who passed away this last year and who won’t be with us on Thursday — perhaps for the first time. We find ourselves feeling sad about our loss and happy to be with loved ones at the same time.

Some adults are alone and may not have friends or family to celebrate with. This can be very painful. If you know anyone in that situation, invite them to your holiday meal.

Illness and financial distress don’t take a vacation on Thanksgiving, either. This holiday marks the beginning of the coming Christmas season; how will families with money problems manage to afford the gifts they would like to give?

It’s not uncommon for the holiday season to be a complex mixture of sweet and salty flavors.

Regardless of the challenges at your table this year, take time to share with loved ones your deep feelings for them. At the end of the day, it’s all about love.

Paul Schoenfeld is a clinical psychologist at The Everett Clinic. His Family Talk blog can be found at www. everettclinic.com/ healthwellness-library.html.

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