Thanksgiving When You’re Not Thankful

How do you celebrate a holiday when things are rough? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

A few weeks ago, I did a podcast with the Mentionables and we talked about depression. It was largely about mental illness, but depression came up. I brought up that when the holiday season comes around, for a lot of people, it’s a happy time, but for some people, it can be rough.

For me, Thanksgiving has never really been my favorite holiday. Just picture being socially awkward due to Aspergers and then also because of that, having a dislike for all of the food served there. I know on my end, it’s really hard when people tell me to eat a lot of turkey. Yeah. Sorry. I don’t play that game.

Honestly, looking back, only two Thanksgivings stand out to me with fond memories. The first was in 1998. The Legend of Zelda: The Ocarina of Time had just come out. I also had the flu. It wasn’t faked at all. I never faked sickness. I had the flu. I couldn’t be around people at all, so I stayed in my room at home the whole night trying to get through the Forest Temple.

That was an awesome Thanksgiving. It might have been horrible if it had been the Water Temple, but it was the Forest one. That one is not the nightmare the Water one is.

The second one was the first Thanksgiving I had with Allie. We were dating and not even engaged yet and she invited me to be with her family. I’m sure that wasn’t the favorite Thanksgiving of my family since I was away spending it with a girl I was dating, but I remember it fondly.

If the holiday season is here though and you’re not into it because of your own suffering, it’s really understandable. Sometimes, holidays remind us of what is different. It can be really painful seeing other people happy. It can be painful hearing so many people say Happy Holidays or Merry Christmas or Happy Thanksgiving.

We know they mean well. They don’t know what’s going on in your life if they say that. If you’re in that position this year, try to remember that these people really do mean well.

The thing is that you are still supposed to be thankful. A couple of years ago or so, someone told me to be thankful for something when you get to the end of the day. If it has been a horrible day, at least be thankful that the day is over.

Also, remember if this is your first time going through a hard holiday season, you’re not alone. Other people have walked this path before. It could be your first time going through it, but it’s been traveled before. There are plenty of people who have walked down it who could be willing to help you as you walk it.

It’s often said that misery loves company. There’s a reason for that. That misery of other people can remind you that you’re not alone. This is a great benefit of groups like Celebrate Recovery. You can go there and know that you are not alone.

That’s something else to be thankful for then. You’re not truly alone.

If you also know someone going through a rough holiday season or think they could be, reach out to them. Give that waiter at the restaurant an extra tip just in case. Give a great tip to the guy who helps you carry your groceries out to your car. Give your Uber driver or deliverer a little extra.

If these people don’t serve you that way, give them a gift card to a favorite restaurant of theirs. If they have children, get some gifts for the children. Even just putting some money in the mail and having it sent that way could help and if you want to do so anonymously, that’s fine too.

If you’ve got a lot more money, do more. I remember the year someone gave us a Nintendo Switch. I still enjoy it and it gave me a lot of hope. Go and secretly pay someone’s electric bill perhaps or take care of their rent or go by them groceries.

By the way, if you’re a Christian, you’re supposed to show this kind of kindness anyway. If they are fellow believers, they are your brothers and sisters. Would you want your physical family going without over the holidays? Then don’t let it be with your spiritual family either.

Not only that, you will really give them something to be thankful for this year.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

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