Every year at this time, I receive correspondences from estranged parents and grandparents who express sadness about missing their adult children and grandchildren at Thanksgiving. One estranged grandmother wrote that she found herself resenting all the ‘happy, happy people and their happy families.” Her perception was that everyone was happy but herself and she was particularly upset by the fact that she would be spending Thanksgiving alone, with no family with whom to enjoy a traditional turkey dinner.

As attractive as the Norman Rockwell images of the holidays may be, many of us can’t relate. There is so much hype about the holidays and everywhere we look, we see idealized images of families hugging one another and laughing with good cheer. Add to that the ubiquitous holiday movies and sentimental TV commercials and we’re tempted to run and hide under the nearest autumn themed throw. The reality is that many family gatherings are quite stressful, due to undercurrents of dysfunction, unresolved anger and resentments.

Many people will spend this Thanksgiving alone or as an ‘add on’ for dinner at a friend’s house (including me). Homeless people will eat turkey dinners at soup kitchens, mentally ill people will forage for food from dumpsters and abandoned elderly will eat microwaved dinners in front of their TVs.

This morning, I decided that I would say ‘Thank you’ for everything. Looking out my window, I give thanks for the winter wonderland I see; I look up and I am thankful for the mystical grey sky. I walk into the kitchen, make coffee and I am thankful for my effortless mobility and for the wonderful aroma. It is an excellent exercise to be thankful for everything because gratitude seems to perpetuate itself.

I find that the holiday season is a good time to go within to that perfect place in my heart where I am whole, quiet and accepting. It’s simple: All is as it is. I remind myself that my happiness does not depend on how many people are sitting at my dinner table, but rather on what I am telling myself about my particular circumstances. The only way to be at peace is to be thankful for what IS and to stop comparing and let go of expectations of what I think the holidays SHOULD be. I know I have the power within me to enjoy this season, if I make up my mind to do so.

This year, I pray for the poor, the homeless, the disabled, the lost and lonely. I pray for my adult child and grandchildren. And I pray for all parents and grandparents whose families have been torn asunder by alienation, abandonment and estrangement.

May you be encircled in warmth, caring and love on this Thanksgiving Day.

8 thoughts on “Thanksgiving”

  • Nancy, I just saw your note on my e-mail. I so appreciate you and all you do. Question; is your group heading the red brick patio scene that recently went Secret? I was a “coffee cup” member, then my ex s i l got in and caused a problem. Now I cannot find the group and very much miss it. Member Kristie Abbott asked about me and rec’d no answer. Please straighten me out …..Gerrie in TN. 423-344-9333 Thank you.

    • Hi Gerrie – I haven’t formed a group yet, so the red patio scene for a secret group is unfamiliar to me. Sorry that your ex got in and caused a problem! I wish I could help you.

      Hang in there! You’re always welcome to write to me privately at
      Good luck!

  • Thank you for this reminder! I too prefer to live my life grateful for the simple, everyday things that bring me joy. The alternative, living with anger & bitterness is not an option.

    • Hi Debbie – You’re so welcome! I need to remind myself as well 😉
      Happy Thanksgiving! Wishing you many blessings.

  • We felt this same grief and loss during thanksgiving and again now with Christmas approaching. We. Oth know anger will just corrupt our health but that said, it will be a relief when the holidays are over. We haven’t seen our grandson since September of 2015, he was just 6 months old then and has changed much since. So, we wait until our son and daughter in law stop this cruel behavior ?

  • Thank you and beautifully said. I, too, will spend today, Thanksgiving, without my children and grandchildren. But life is still good, I have a wonderful husband, a needy 90 year old father-in-law and a single dad with his 10 year old daughter who will join us for dinner. I wish you a Happy Thanksgiving. And just remember, there is always hope for Christmas.

    • I wish you a wonderful Thanksgiving, also. I’m glad you’ve made the choice to enjoy the people who are in your life rather than torture yourself over missing the ones who aren’t. And, I love that you’re hopeful for the future.
      Wishing you many blessings.

      • Thank you, Nancy. Had a good Thanksgiving and the little girl that was with us now calls me her “home” grandma. Made my day 🙂

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