When Thanksgiving Day Changes


We all have expectations of what the Thanksgiving holidays are meant to be.

Media has certainly played a big part in creating what the “perfect ” day is supposed to be.  So, when the situations in life are less than Hallmark-perfect, the feelings of loss or being “less than” can eat away at the very core of what we have come to believe is normal.

I have had many share with me over the years that they feel that “the joy of holidays has disappeared.” I am convinced that this is not uncommon. There are simply those who retreat for a few days, allowing others to believe that they are busy and happy.

Things change. Family dynamics change. People struggle to change with them, not knowing how to do things differently. They are thrown into a tailspin and nothing resembles what was or what is “supposed” to be.

I have had many years of Thanksgivings to learn to do things differently. Many of them have been fun, and filled with much love and peace. Yet, I still have not learned how to manage them well.

Life has changed drastically for family members and friends that they are learning to deal with their own expectations of what holidays and life truly mean. I suppose that I had talked myself into believing that some situations would go back to what they once were long ago. But that is my own version of what I was taught to believe today should bring.

Today, I will not host a Thanksgiving dinner. There are no definitive holiday plans or invitations to join any one else in a celebration of the holiday, or to help them in hosting such an event. Today will be like any other day.

There is not a moment where we are not surrounded with the commercial visions of sugarplums and Santa and Norman Rockwell-inspired visions of family gatherings.

Wait!  Sugarplums and Santa?  Aren’t we still talking about Thanksgiving? I am confused. Halloween to New Years becomes such a blur when Christmas decorations are being sold in October.

Anyone of us can fall into a pit melancholy, hurt and pain. We can feel slighted for not getting invitations. We may feel discarded by those who “should” (fill-in-the-blank).

I admit that I have fallen into that pit a time or two over the years.

Yet, I have learned that every day can be a day of thanksgiving, whether or not it is filled with turkey and stuffing, and pumpkin pie while watching football games with people you may see once a year.

But who is to say that you cannot stuff a turkey with bread, or bake a pumpkin pie in July, if you wanted?

Has Thanksgiving been reduced to simply a turkey, cranberries, green bean casserole, sweet potatoes topped with marshmallows?  Is this what it has become because we have all bought into unrealistic expectations that have been shoved down our throats by society, media, and (dare I say) dysfunctional family?

Each day we wake up, there is an opportunity to give thanks for whatever we have. Is that not what the words represent?  Thanks giving?

I do not know if I will eat turkey or pumpkin pie today. I might just have pancakes and eggs at my local Denny’s.

On Saturday I am meeting a group of people for a traditional dinner and game night, if I need my tryptophan-fix.

Yet, today I will reflect on many things for which I am thankful:

  • LIFE itself
  • People who have remained by my side to care for me since my 2012 diagnosis
  • Living in a place where I am safe
  • The few dear friends and family members who continue to make it a point to let me know they love me by picking up a telephone or sending me something in the mail to surprise me
  • Having enough
  • Opportunities presented to me when I trust in the process, others and myself
  • A new life born on Tuesday–my grand niece, Rosie, at 9 lbs. 6 oz.
  • Being enough

* * * * * * * * * * * * * *

For those of you who celebrate today, have a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday with much joy and love and peace that you so deserve on this day and always.

And for those of you who are sitting at home alone, maybe you will join me for those pancakes at Denny’s.


For what things are you thankful for today?

16 thoughts on “When Thanksgiving Day Changes

  1. David Golias

    Thank you for this, Coral! I so need to catch up with you! Facebook made it so easy to stay in touch and now I need to make more of an effort. I’m not good with old school, but I need to try for people who are worth it. People like you! Glad to see you still very much have your spunk and are living your life your way. Happy Thanksgiving to you, your way! 🙂

    David Golias

    Sent from my iPhone


    1. David…I appreciate your message and look forward to catching up sometime soon. You have my email, and we can share numbers. Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours.

  2. Kate Maloney

    I am thankful to have survived my neuro endocrine cancer. I am thankful that I have come to see that I can move past the sucky things in life – and a few over the last two years have been sucky indeed – loss of job with such poor timing one child turned Harvard down to opt for a full scholarship offer. It’s hard not to have bitter feelings, watching others who seem to have little or no obstacles sail through life. But the greatest triumph is moving past that and simply choosing happiness and gratitude for what I do have. NETs do that for us, right?

    1. Kate…I’ve come to learn that life itself can be really “sucky,” and that no one is exempt from it. We may not see the obstacles with which they deal. You are so right in that we have choices. We can choose LIFE, which includes love and gratitude. Or we can choose to die inside with our bitterness and angst, and “why me?” It’s not always easy, but you are there…living a life that is vibrant and where people see your joy. Much love and peace to you.

  3. This is a much-needed message in a day when American society and the family itself are in flux. The media raises expectations to serve its own agenda of getting people to spend money on things that people never used to think important. Today it’s almost as though Thanksgiving is just to usher in Black Friday, and some stores are even staying open on Thanksgiving to get an early start.

    I wish we could go back to a less commercial time, stable families, and more appreciation for what matters — life itself, primary relationships who are always there for us, food, shelter, music, laughter, health, and the rest. But we can’t go back.

    Our community has a tradition I really love. Every Thanksgiving there is a community dinner in the activity room of a local park. It is cooked and served by volunteers — turkey and all the trimmings, with donated food. Anyone who is in need or alone on Thanksgiving is welcome. You don’t have to be poor or vetted. It is recognized that some needs are emotional. So widows who have outlived their family and friends are welcome right along with the homeless and if they need a ride, someone brings them. Healthy people who are alone often go to help serve or cook on that day, although many volunteers go home to celebrate with their families afterwards.

  4. ruthireads

    I am thrilled and thankful to have found your blog, Coral. While my life is currently less than perfect, I maintain that each day is a near perfect day and I am thankful for all that I have in my life.

  5. Always glad to read your posts. and your emails too. Adding to Barbara’s comment above, there are places in Northern Ireland that will open on Christmas Day with free food for those in need and the local “storehouse” is asking for extra donations for those on very low incomes.

    1. It is the whole idea of sharing meals together, sitting down that appeal to me. Not grabbing a plate and going off to text message or watch tv. I am sure there must be something going on in the community to feed those who are homeless. I wonder, however, about those who have homes, but are alone.

      1. One year, when the children were small, I contacted our local social services and offered to take a lonely elderly person for Christmas dinner. We ended up with two! It was enjoyable for us and I hope so for them too. Neither of them lived to see the following year! (Not because of my dinner, I hasten to add.) We do have a few elderly alone people here and they have been offered dinner but they have family who come for them over the Christmas holiday 🙂

  6. DW Davis

    Hi Coral, this is a wonderful post. I have shared it on Google+. I have so much to be thankful for that to list it all would take ages, but I do want to share how thankful I am for my lovely wife, my two fine sons, my students who bless me every day whether they know it or not, and I am thankful to have you as a friend, even though we’re thousands of miles apart, I often feel as though we are cut from the same cloth.

    1. Hello, DW, and thank you for your words and your share. I, too, have thought the same thing. I am so grateful for our friendship. I have felt that you are like a brother to me.

  7. markgraham

    Giving is better than receiving.
    That is why I write to share my knowledge in my own way.
    I would just like to receive I still really do not know.

    1. Giving is better than receiving. What I have come to understand, Mark, is there comes a time when we must learn to receive graciously, as well. Not always easy for the givers of the world.

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