Joleen's Lessons from the Thanksgiving Table

Our family traditions were different than most people growing up.  After my 3rd grade year, both sets of grandparents began living in warmer climates for the fall and winter months-- one set in Arizona, and one set in Florida.  While Christmas was GREAT (we got to visit our Florida grandparents every Christmas), Thanksgiving was a bit lonely without our grandparents there to celebrate with us.  While friends were celebrating with all of their extended family and relatives, because our family is so small, it was only my parents and my sister. One "non-traditional" tradition we started was to have spaghetti instead of a traditional turkey dinner.  You might be asking "how in the world would that ever feel like Thanksgiving"?  As said before, while this felt a bit "off", even to me as a young child, it did teach me an important lesson as an adult.

Thanksgiving truly isn't about the food-- it's about what family you have and what you make of it.

Our family used to play games and watch movies, and later in life, the conversations we would have around the dinner table would become invaluable to me.  After my father passed away in 2002, I wouldn't trade those holidays for the world.

Now, as an adult, I see how important it is to not take for granted family relationships around the holidays.  While we have moved on from our spaghetti tradition, my sister and I have developed our own traditions that we hope to pass along to our children.  We have reunited with the traditional turkey dinner in our own marriages, but have also included some extra "non-traditional" traditions to pass along to our own children through the years.  More than anything, we want them to learn the same lesson that we did-- regardless of what family you have around you or what food you eat, you can make the best of it and find thankfulness in whatever you do!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Joleen Watson, MS, NCC, is a therapist at Imagine Hope Counseling Group. She enjoys doing marriage counseling, relationship counseling, couples counseling, and individual counseling.  Imagine Hope also specializes in family, child and adolescent counseling and serves Indianapolis area including the surrounding areas of Carmel, Noblesville, Zionsville, Westfield, and Fishers.