November 24th, 2014
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My parents, some of my siblings and some of my in-laws flew to Ireland this past Saturday and will be spending Thanksgiving this year in different  country.

It should fun and interesting and certainly different for them as well as the rest of my family for now we are changing up the places where we will go to celebrate Thanksgiving this year and who we will have a chance to see on the day.  I must say that given the fact that we are a large boisterous family, most of us do try to stay flexible about the different ways we can celebrate the holidays, whether it is babies being born, people in the midst of moving or sadly even the death of a family member.

Kilmacreehy church in Liscannor, Ireland

Holiday changes can be difficult to make but I think I have learned throughout the years since my husband’s death that it is not where you are when that Big Bird of a turkey is being sliced, but who you are with, that makes the day feel special.  It took me awhile to figure that concept out for I didn’t want to let go of the familiar rituals that reminded me of my husband.  I have also learned that I have a role in how I feel about family holiday celebrations and it’s up to me to try and get myself in a peaceful mindset.

To do that I choose to look at the blessings and the positive vibes of my holiday.  To go backwards and think about what I won’t or don’t have serves me no good.  I definitely have white knuckled my way through a few family holidays and I have found out the hard way that that is not a good way to go.   Now I focus on the precious time I have with family and great friends and consider the blessings of my good health, the people who include me in their celebrations, the love I feel for them and others that day, the delicious meal I am lucky to have and the beautiful homes where I get to hang out and enjoy the day.  To me, that is really what counts!

Life is about change and change is going to happen.  It’s inevitable.  Family rituals are considered by some to be sacred ground but as much as you want to hold on to “the way it has always been,” life has a way of introducing something new.  In my family, there is still talk about the year that one of my sisters received her First Communion on Thanksgiving Day (God knows who at the school thought up that scheduling mistake!) and our family had Thanksgiving dinner in a restaurant.  My parents went on and on about that Thanksgiving and vowed that we would always have Thanksgiving at home and we always did!

Then there was the year that me, my husband and our young son joined a large group of my friends at a beach house near the ocean and we celebrated Thanksgiving in Bethany Beach.  That was a lot of fun and we all made some great memories but we also knew we couldn’t go to the beach every year for Thanksgiving.

It’s easy to see why the idea of changing any part of the way a holiday is celebrated can cause hurt or anger or plain old confusion. I think talking about the changes before they happen or talking about holiday plans in general before the day arrives are key to keeping the family peace.

Nobody likes things sprung on them that they were not prepared for.  Talk to your family about why you want to make a change.  Open a dialogue about why and what part of the holiday you would like to do differently.  It’s not a good idea to just leave it for people to guess why you don’t want to follow a ritual.

So going forward, maybe you are preparing yourself this year for some changes when the holidays arrive for your family or maybe your holiday will go exactly as it has in years past.  Either way, no matter where you are, harmony is the name of the game as we sit down to give thanks.

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