By Patricia Calabrese, PMHNP & Tony Calabrese, PhD

Bless My Family


Holidays occur throughout the year—time markers on our calendar, complete with old memories of past celebrations and the hopes for future ones. We know some holidays are coming as stores are filled with colorful displays for Mother’s Day and the 4th of July. Some holidays allow us a time to pause, to remember our veterans and their service, or to reflect on the influence our mothers and fathers have played in our lives. Still, other holidays provide an opportunity to barbecue, travel, or to relax.


But when you refer to “the holidays,” most people recognize it as that six-week period from late November to early January, which includes Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day. It is a special time for most families, with heightened significance and a brilliance that shines over the rest of the year.


thanksgiving-fruit-and-pumpkinThis period starts with Thanksgiving, which is more than pumpkins, turkey, and football. It is a truly thankful holiday as loved ones come together and celebrate. For some people having to travel great distances, it may be the only opportunity to spend time together.


Our image of Thanksgiving usually involves a large group sitting around the dining table eyeing an equally large meal—admittedly an ideal image that is difficult to orchestrate (think Norman Rockwell)! But however, it looks what matters most is that this is a moment when we gather to celebrate the ties that bind us as family and to give thanks. Sometimes this is with a family bonded by blood, sometimes a family by circumstance, sometimes a working family, or a family of friends. No matter how large or small the gathering, what matters most is that we share love and gratitude on this special day.


Families have their unique customs. Some have the oldest member say the blessing, some have a “children’s table,” while others involve watching football. Some may indulge in a special food, not otherwise affordable the rest of the year. It is not the particular custom that matters but the fact that it is done together as a family, creating memories of these cherished events that will be remembered.


It is a time when the newly married create customs of their own, a time when others may make amends and forgive a past grudge, and also a time to realize that generational family ties are so much more important than any one issue. Our busy lives don’t often allow for multigenerational gatherings to happen. Thanksgiving is that time for different generations to come together and share stories. It’s the memories that we give to our children, and as they grow older and raise their own families they can pass on when they celebrate their own Thanksgiving.


Rather than focusing on football and turkey, focus instead on what this day means. This is the time to say what we mean to each other and to say thank you.


Anthony Calabrese, PhD, is the Director of Pine Grove’s Outpatient Services. Patricia Calabrese, PMHNP, is a Nurse Practitioner for Pine Grove’s Outpatient Services.