Thanksgiving and the Passage of Time Where Family and Community Meet

photo of cornucopia filled with food

In this blog post, I will take you on a vivid journey to a time past. It’s about one of our most important holidays where everyone gathers together to celebrate. It’s about the warmth of family and community.

This story lives deep within my veins. At one time, people valued one another more than now. We had a sense of belonging. There was less depression. More happiness, less tribalism, and more world acceptance and unity. It’s very important for me to share this with you, because everything has changed. These changes have had a strong and far-reaching effect on everyone’s lives and the world we live in today.

As a person with cerebral palsy and dyslexia, family and friends meant more to me than to a lot of people. We valued them and their diversity. During this season, and having few friends, this meant opening our innermost selves to others. We looked forward to having people over to our house. There was an anticipation in the air. Getting dressed up, visiting with our loved ones, playing and talking with my cousins, and helping make family recipes with my Mama Katie. It was wonderful, and I still remember smelling the warm scent of her cooking.

I would breathe in the delicious aromas of her kugel, roasted chicken with garlic, rosemary, thyme, sage, marjoram and salt. Her delectable sweet potatoes with cinnamon and cloves and melted butter drizzled throughout. And Mama’s homemade cranberry sauce, and a wonderful salad to feast on, along with warm feelings and memories.

This gaiety was emotionally satisfying. I felt a belonging. A warm uplifting, which meant even more to me, especially being a shy, young girl, with a full length metal leg brace and a paralyzed left arm, trying hard to fit in. My life was hard at that age. I had a lot of challenges and I wanted to make myself the best person I could become.

Slowly, though, over the past seven decades, the richness of our distinct heritages as a collective world has diminished. We have a powerful pull toward our own. We stay to ourselves more. And we don’t value the gifts we possess that make us unique. We are afraid to make meaningful friendships. Thus, there is an underlying unspoken loyalty.

We give thanks, yet we don’t. We find unattractive features in a person’s character, rather than their goodness. It is saddening that we collectively have lost our ability to sincerely give thanks for one another; losing our way and our heritage of family and loved ones. We have forgotten how to be kind and caring. That’s what this time of year is all about.

We seem to have lost our skills and the means to celebrate our diversity. We see these things differently than generations past. We have lost our methods to broaden and expand our outlook, to make larger our points of view see something in a different frame of mind, or someone in a whole new light. It is very difficult to bring someone who is different into our life, or to welcome others into our circle and incorporate the good things about them. We have forgotten how to take in the goodness others possess. We have forgotten the experiences of our past and how to change for the better, and how to open our minds and hearts. Sadly, we have forgotten how to welcome and embrace others into our lives and share joyfully.

In the past, people valued their connections more. They took solace in having other people around. They wanted that connection. They thrived on it. They wanted that human bond. It sustained them. Now, it doesn’t mean as much, or anything at all. It means nothing. It hardly exists.

In closing, what can every one of us do to bring kindness, compassion, joy, acceptance, and a readiness to consider something without prejudice, and so to change our lives and others? It only takes a smile or one kind word. Can we find it within our best selves to make that effort? If we can open our hearts just a little, think of the good that will happen because of our actions and deeds? Think of how its effects can snowball in positive ways. This process will change your life for the good forever. All you have to do is just one thing. One thing to work towards a positive change in this world. Think about how you can find it within. Think of how you will feel. Your heart will find peace. Balance and comfort will fill your life. It’s so simple… And beneficial. It will bring the state of unity and join us as a whole. Will you give it some thought?

Original text ©2023 by Karen Lynn-Chlup. All rights reserved.

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