Thanksgiving can be a wonderful holiday, filled with delicious food, family or friends we don’t often see, and the promise of a joyful holiday season. However, these experiences aren’t always shared. We go back to work tomorrow, and many people will be lying when asked, “How was your Thanksgiving.?” “Great.” They’ll say. But inside they are embarrassed and ashamed because they were unable to find the joy in the holiday. I know because, as a therapist, I hear it regularly during the holiday season. So many people experience stress, unfulfilled expectations, or loneliness. There is social pressure to not complain and to even be actively grateful for all the wonderful things in our lives. This is so difficult when we feel deprived of what is portrayed as the cultural norm.
We cannot manufacture gratitude. We can learn to appreciate what we do have. But that can take patience and time. It is not an imperative, just because it’s that time of year. If you feel compelled to say you had a great Thanksgiving when it was far from stellar, just remember your experience has validity. Whatever happened or didn’t happen during the holiday is your truth, and matters to you. And, maybe, that can be enough.