I am giving you a heads up in advance, so you will be able to take positive action to strengthen family ties even if you are unable to share the Thanksgiving holiday with your family. I wish the American family bond was as strong today as it was in years past. In my opinion, three ways to strengthen family ties, especially during the holidays, is to think of this word: tradition, tradition, tradition.
Unfortunately, in today’s modern age, families are more separated by distance. Many families are no longer able to sit around their dining room table to laugh and love over the traditional Thanksgiving table, giving thanks to the Plymouth colonists and American natives who were able to give their thanks for their first successful harvest by sharing and celebrating an Autumn feast together.
Important Traditions That Led to the Official Thanksgiving Holiday.
Thanksgiving is part of America’s history. In the 1600s, 102 people, later known as Pilgrims, set sail on the Mayflower. Their self-reliance gave them the will to strike out across difficult Seas for a new land where they could practice religious freedom and or start a new life in America. The voyage was 3,000 miles and took them 66 days.
Ask yourself, how many miles and how many hours would it take you to drive or fly to your children or arrange a family get together and invite all the little darlings to your part of the woods?
Did you know that our first President George Washington proclaimed a national day of thanks; that Benjamin Franklin declared the domesticated turkey the official meal and that Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a harvest thanksgiving during the Civil War but it was not until 1941, as a national healing process at the end of the war, Congress established the fourth Thursday of the month of November, as the national Thanksgiving holiday.
What is interesting is that the traditions of the original Thanksgiving celebration over 400 years ago endured, unlike the American family tradition of sharing in the festivities. The love of family continues, along with the acceptance of change due to living great distances from one another. However, this acceptance of change has won over the old tradition of family life. And, in many families it has become a way of life with families spending the holiday apart. So then, how do we strengthen family ties during the holidays if we are not together?
I notice the change in my family. Our children and grandchildren live in five different states. My first cousins on my father’s side, 14 of us, live across the United States and as far away as Israel. I know many of you share the same story. That is why I chose the word tradition. The customs and beliefs from generation to generation is an essential way for us to try and strengthen family ties.
Thanksgiving is all about tradition. Nothing has changed about this holiday. It does not appear to be commercialized, it is by tradition celebrated on the 4th Thursday of the month, it is time to give thanks for our blessings and sanctions the word, gratitude. We celebrate with pride being Americans and continue to stuff ourselves happily with the traditional menu. There is one change; the size of the American family’s dining room table is shrinking; the roar of family laughter is no longer as boisterous.
The main reason for this change is our traditional family life has changed due to the ease of transportation. Our children, along with our grandchildren, move to seek better jobs in different cities across our great land. Parents retire and move to warm climates or move to be close to some of their children. Grandparents, the same. Ties are broken by distance, not love. Family dining room tables are now made up of friends instead of the traditional family. It’s funny that as the world gets smaller, we all seem to get farther apart.
So, what can we do about this fact of life? We do have choices, Darlings. Where there is a will, there is a way.
In small ways, we can let our families know we love them.
3 Ways to Strengthen Family Ties
1. Rise to the Occasion
We can rise to the occasion and keep the family fire burning by traveling to our loved ones. We also have the option of inviting our families to spend the holiday in our home.
2. Write a Letter
We can write a personal letter, not an email, to our children and grandchildren. In our written notes we will tell each of them how they make a difference in our lives; that we will miss sharing the Thanksgiving holiday with them. Also mention that they should take pride in their country and shout to the world with pride, “I am an American! I love America!” Our written words will hopefully create an even stronger bond between our grandchildren and our country.
3. Remember the Tradition
We can send different age-appropriate books, documentaries or movies depending on the age of each family member on the history of the thirteen colonies, the first Thanksgiving, the colonists and our founding fathers, along with a handwritten note.
I know a marvelous storyteller named James Michener who writes novels that are hard to put down. For his book Chesapeake (check it out here), Michener spent two years on the Eastern Shore of Maryland carrying out his research.
“Once again James A. Michener brings history to life with this 400-year saga of America’s great bay and its Eastern Shore. Following Edmund Steed and his remarkable family, who parallel the settling and forming of the nation, CHESAPEAKE sweeps readers from the unspoiled world of the Native Americans to the voyages of Captain John Smith, the Revolutionary War, and right up to modern times.” Associated Press
Darlings, I’ve read the book twice over the years. This book will open up your adult children’s and grand’s eyes about the men and women who settled America. Hopefully, they will pass the book down to their grands.
Holidays are all about tradition. Family life is all about tradition.
I think as grandparents whose families live great distances apart, we should make an effort to go out of our way to spend the Thanksgiving holiday with our adult children and grands at their home or ours or meet halfway. This is the ultimate way to strengthen family ties during the Thanksgiving holiday.
I just asked my ultimate concierge if I could start reaching out to our family to join us in our beautiful Chicago for the traditional Thanksgiving holiday. His response; yes. I will write my letters, today.
If you’re not able to spend Thanksgiving with your family, how will you strengthen family ties?