AUTHOR: Jackie Naginey Hook
TAG LINE: Jackie Naginey Hook, MA, is a spiritual director, celebrant and end-of-life doula. She coordinates the Helping Grieving Hearts Heal program through Koch Funeral Home in State College. For more information, please call 814-237-2712 or visit www.kochfuneralhome.com.
AGENCY: Koch Funeral Home
I love Thanksgiving! With its focus on family and gratitude, it’s one of the best holidays for me. Both of our children will be home this year, and since we’re all fully vaccinated, we’ll get to spend time with my parents too – I’m really looking forward to it.
I enjoy the holiday dining as well. However, the food on our table might look a little different than yours. Yes, we’ll have the turkey, mashed potatoes, peas, corn and cranberry sauce. But we’ll also have my favorites, our daughter’s cauliflower rice stuffing and my uncooked marinated vegetables and raw apple pie. (I make this by using a food processor to create a crust of walnuts and dates and a filling of apples, dates and lemon juice. I then place the pie in a warm but turned off oven.) We’ll probably share the story of the time our daughter told a friend about the food on our Thanksgiving table and the friend asked, “Does your mom cook the turkey?”
There will be some rolls of the eyes from the younger crowd when I bring out our deck of “Have the Talk of a Lifetime” cards and start asking questions like, “What made you laugh so hard you cried?” In the end as always, we’ll share memories, learn new things about one another and have a good time.
While we’re enjoying our Thanksgiving, I’ll recognize that not everyone else will be. In particular, I’ll think of the many people who’ve lost loved ones. Sharing memories for these people might bring sadness, or they might also bring comfort. It can be a challenge to find the right balance between remembering and making life good again. Some people like to honor old traditions and others like to make new ones. There is no right or wrong way to do this, only what works for you. What is important is to listen, feel whatever you’re feeling, and take care of yourself. Maybe you’ll have several plans for your holiday time and then choose whatever combination works. Or maybe you’ll want to scrap all of the plans and in the moment, make a new one. Whatever you do, remember to breathe.
And if you’re interested, there is still time to join our Healing through the Holidays grief education and support/discussion group. To learn more about this and other gatherings we offer, please visit the Koch Funeral Home website. You can also find information there about our three different decks of “Have the Talk of a Lifetime” cards – we have one specifically for children and one about celebrations. In the meantime, I wish you all a meaningful holiday with comforting memories and times of creating new ones.