I come from a relatively large family. When we are all assembled, we add up to 25+ people. Large gatherings like this aren’t uncommon for us. We’ll form a celebration around most anything…holidays, birthdays, or even opening an envelope. What can I say? We actually (mostly) like each other and enjoy spending time together.
At Thanksgiving, we gather at my mom’s house, and each of us is tasked with preparing part of the meal. I am usually the homemade cranberry sauce chef, but since my aunt departed for Arizona, I also make mashed potatoes. We feast. We clean up. And then we just hang out for a while.
While some people complain about their families, I always try to learn a little something from the time spent with mine.
Four Key Lessons Learned From Thanksgiving With My Family
1. I Don’t Have Patience for Small Children
My cousin, bless his heart, has two children under three years of age. They are both amazing and adorable. He and his wife are great parents, but I realize I am not built to deal with the day-in, day-out stuff they handle. I observed that young kids shriek for no good reason, they always have sticky hands, and they produce an excessive amount of bodily fluids. No, little children for extended periods of time are just not for me. But it sure is fun to wind them up and give back to their parents!
2. Time With Family Is Everything
If I have learned anything from COVID and the past several years, it’s that nothing matters more than family. Whether it is the family you were born into or the family you have created, savor every single moment. I have never met anyone who has lost a family member say they didn’t wish for one more day with their departed loved one. Treasure the time you’ve got; you never know when time may be up.
3. Board Games Are Highly Underrated
This may amaze some of my readers, but I tend to be very competitive. My family has a grand tradition of playing board games on holidays — and trying to bend the rules of Scattergories to their benefit. Personally, I like RISK. I have a surefire strategy and become quickly incensed if I lose hold of my favorite continent. Whether you are a competitive crazy person like me, or you just want to do something different, board games are the way to go. There are dozens upon dozens of new ones on the market to keep your family occupied.
4. Be Genuinely Thankful
As I mentioned before, some of us would give anything in the world for one more minute with our lost loved ones. Since that is not possible, we have to really savor the memories and be truly thankful that we shared their space for their all-too-brief time on this earth. So, on Thanksgiving or Christmas or Chanukkah or whatever you celebrate, forget about Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok challenges and just spend some time being thankful for every single blessing you have.
This past year has been hard for my family. We have gotten some great news and some devastating news. We have watched as people, who we thought were timeless, age. We have seen an illness rear its ugly head, and we have held it off for at least a little while. During this holiday season, I find myself more introspective as I process everything we’ve been through.
My advice for you: Be TRULY thankful and cherish every moment. Even if some of the people in your tribe drive you nuts, try to take away something positive from your holiday celebrations this year.
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