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Editor's Note: Be gentle with those who are not thankful

Published: Tuesday, Nov. 26, 2013 4:41 p.m. CDT

Happy Thanksgiving, readers.

What does Thanksgiving mean to you?

A time for family?

For food?

For football?

Is it about being grateful for what you have, or about planning for the holiday season ahead?

I think for most people, it’s some combination of the above. I know it is for me.

I get caught up in the trappings of the food and the holiday planning and getting together with family. But at the same time, I remember that the best Thanksgiving meal I ever had was a dried-out cheeseburger from a hospital cafeteria. That was the year my then-new husband had come out of a coma a few days earlier.

I was very grateful that year.

I spoke with someone last week who spent some time downstate helping with tornado relief. She said she encountered both ends of the spectrum. Some people who lost everything are grateful for what they still  have – their lives, their health, each other.

Others are finding it hard to be thankful this year, as they pick through the shambles of their homes and lives. And who could blame them?

The holiday season that “officially” begins this weekend can be fragile for some. When a person is struggling to put food on the table – any food, much less a holiday feast – or their health is not good, or they are feuding with their family, the last thing they want to hear is people telling them how thankful they’re supposed to be.

Each year for the last several years, I have used the MidWeek’s Facebook page to offer a “give-back idea of the day” during the holiday season. This year, those posts will begin Sunday, Dec. 1, and continue through Christmas. For those of us who are so blessed that we are able to give back, now is the time. It doesn’t have to be financial; it can be calling a friend without family nearby, or a family member who has fallen out of touch.

It can be smiling at a stranger, or telling somebody to have a happy holiday, whatever holiday it is, and really meaning it.

It can mean being gentle with those who are not having a happy holiday season, and trying not to blind them with the glare of our own gratitude.

If you have no place to go on Thanksgiving, there are at least three community dinners we know of. All three are free, though donations are accepted if you are able and willing to make one. You can find the details on page 8.

And if you are feeling anything but jolly and are dreading the holiday season, there are several local support groups specifically for people who are sad this time of year. Whatever the reason for your sadness, you can find people there who are in the same boat.

Emmaus Church in Genoa hosts a grief sharing group at 5:30 p.m. Thursdays year-round. Salem Lutheran Church in Sycamore has a seasonal group that meets at 3 p.m. Sundays specifically for people who are dealing with sadness during the holiday season.

I truly wish you a happy Thanksgiving. Enjoy your MidWeek.

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