Being Intentionally Present with Family During Thanksgiving

Don’t take the time you spend this holiday season with your loved ones for granted. Be present. Be intentional.

I can’t tell you how badly I wish I could spend this Thanksgiving with my sister.

It could and should be said about every encounter and interaction that we have with our loved ones, but it is especially important around the holidays. This is a time of year that floods your brain with memories.

That family tradition of putting up your evergreen Christmas tree the night of Thanksgiving. The taste of your grandmother’s pumpkin pie. The contagious laughter and dramatic storytelling from one special family member. Meeting the family’s newest baby for the first time. Listening to your grandfather’s same jokes and stories over and over.

Maybe you’re tired of feeling misunderstood by your family. Maybe you have different political and religious philosophies. Maybe you have a strained or stressed relationship. Maybe you’ve been mistreated. All of that is valid. It is good and well and true. But trust me. At the end of the day, when you see your family member dying and you think of being in their place someday, none of that stuff matters anymore. You are left with all of the good memories. You want to apologize for the bad. Even the things that weren’t your fault. You will have regrets even if the relationship with your family member was perfectly healthy.

It’s easy to take the time you have left with your loved ones for granted. After all, you’ll get to see them again soon. You’ll do it again next year at Thanksgiving. And the year after that. Without being morbid, you have to realize in these moments that might not be true. I think it is healthy to have a space in your mind, an intentional thought, that encourages you to cherish these holidays even more. There is a benefit in realizing how fragile and precious life is. It can allow you to sit in the present moment and think “Wow, I am happy right here, right now. Looking around at my family, hearing the laughter, I am happy.”

Be present. Be intentional. Oblige in your nieces and nephews who beg you to play with them. Sit, talk, laugh. Pay attention to the wrinkles on your parent and grandparent’s foreheads. We are all getting older. Learn more about your cousin’s life. What challenges can you advise and encourage them through? Take photographs. Take videos. These will mean a lot to you someday.

Basically my point is, try your best to be present with your family this Thanksgiving. And in the times when that gets difficult, hold onto the fact that these moments are fleeting, and try again.