Grace Murray Hopper
Positive Inspirational Stories
August and September 2019 - Featured Inspirational Story
An Inspiring Thanksgiving
Something strange happened when I was 14 years old. Every previous year on Thanksgiving Day I'd woken up early, filled with excitement, unable to wait for the turkey and gravy, stuffing and greens, pumpkin pie with pecans, and my grandma's famous cheesecake.
But this Thanksgiving, I couldn't find the magic anymore. For some reason the holiday seemed fake. I suddenly felt like Thanksgiving was a big lie. I saw no reason to celebrate.
As my aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandma started to arrive carrying plates of food, baskets of bread, and pitchers of egg nog, I grew more and more angry and frustrated. None of them were really thankful, I realized. The whole thing was a lie!
When my mom called for everyone to take their seats for dinner, I left. I ran into the guest room where no one would look and collapsed against the futon, crying. I was defiant because I wanted to be an honest person but I was realizing that Thanksgiving was inauthentic. It didnít feel right to participate.
My mom, worried that I was absent from the table, came to see what was wrong. 'No one is really thankful!' I sobbed, 'They just pretend for one day because thatís what you're supposed to do!'
My mom sat down next to me on the futon and listened wisely until I was done. Then she nodded. 'You're right,' she told me, 'it's fake until you find the truth for yourself.' She said it was my choice whether to celebrate with them or not. She said Thanksgiving was a time to reflect because we donít always get to see loved ones and eat a good meal. Then she left.
I didn't listen to her. I was convinced that every holiday was a hoax and I could never find joy celebrating again. But I was also starving and I had to eat something, so after a few minutes I went back to the dining room.
And I couldn't believe what I saw.
Waiting for me, with wide smiles, was my entire extended family and a table covered with untouched plates. At first, I was confused. I wondered why no one was digging into their carefully-constructed meals.
That's when I noticed that everyone was looking at me with concern.
'Andy,' my aunt said, 'We can't eat without you. It's your turn.'
Suddenly I realized they wanted me to be a part of the tradition of going around the table and sharing what made us all thankful. I didnít know what to say. But I had to say something. Finally, I said I was thankful for having a younger brother to teach, play with, and see grow.
The family shared, and everyone had something beautiful to say. Listening, I suddenly understood what my mom meant about needing to come up with my own reason for celebrating. For me, this holiday was a chance to pause and reflect on everything I cared about. That was worth celebrating.
And with that, I took a huge and satisfying bite of food.
Written by Andy Earle
Andy is a researcher who studies parent-teen communication and adolescent risk behaviors. He is the co-founder of talkingtoteens.com and host of the Talking to Teens podcast, a free weekly talk show for parents of teenagers. Learn more about Andy and his work at . . . Andyís Profile >>>
Andy has also created a very special list of 19 Inspirational Quotes for Teens which can be viewed at . . . 19 Inspirational Quotes for Teens >>>
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