One of my favorite sayings in the Bible is “God places the solitary in families”.
Just like everyone else, my life is not always easy, and hasn’t always been easy. There are bumpy times in everyone’s life, and lonely ones. And the holidays are always a challenge, for most of us. We can probably all count on one hand the times that the holidays were ‘perfect’ and easy. Stuff happens. Or doesn’t happen when we wish it would. It’s easy to be disappointed on the holidays, if they don’t work out just the way we hope.
Years ago, I was very young, divorced, and had one child (my oldest daughter). And as divorced people do, I shared her with her father on holidays, and we alternated. That meant that on his year to have her on Thanksgiving and Christmas, I found myself alone, with no child, no one else, and thousands of miles from my family. And I can tell you I had some really lousy holidays on the off years!!!! and on one of those off years, I came across that saying from the Bible, and remember thinking in response, “Yeah, sure. Whatever”. I tried various solutions to those holidays. I invited friends one year, one year I didn’t know anyone to invite or invite me. I once spent a whole Thanksgiving calling people I knew were alone and lonely, even in other cities, to cheer them up, hoping to cheer myself up by doing a good deed. But no matter how hard I tried to make them better, some years were just miserably lonely and tough. We all wish we had the perfect dream family to spend the holidays with. That doesn’t often happen. And even if we have great families, there can be heart aches over the holidays too (for us, it will always be the absence of my late son Nick).
Fast forward the film from those lonely Thanksgivings a long time ago. I remarried, to a man who had two wonderful sons, and we then had a whole slew of more children (6 of them!!). We wound up with nine children collectively, an enormous blessing. And as I sat at the table one year, with kids shouting and talking, and babies gurgling and crying, and friends around us…..I suddenly remembered that saying….God places the solitary in families. One moment I was literally all alone on Thanksgiving, and many years later, I had nine children, and an army at my table. What a difference some years make!!! And I certainly was placed in a family, a BIG one!!!
It doesn’t always happen as obviously as that. We don’t all remarry and wind up with nine children, from a solitary state. But there are different kinds of families, families made up of good friends that we have chosen, or kind people who invite us, or people we reach out to and invite or even in laws. That saying from the Bible doesnt say whose family we get ‘placed’ in, or what kind of family we will have or form, or even that we are necessarily related to that family. But I had some wonderful Thanksgivings in those days with people I never expected to spend the holiday with and it turned out beautifully sometimes. We can be as close to our friends (whom we have chosen) as we are to the families we are actually related to—-and sometimes the people we pick suit us better than those we were born with and are related to, and may even be nicer to us. But I think that statement is worth thinking about. That whether we create that family, or someone else does, if we’re open to it, we may end up in a setting that is truly wonderful to be in, and with some effort and a bit of luck, we may not have to spend the holiday alone. We can be placed in someone else’s family, or a family setting we create made up of friends, or work in a shelter over the holidays, or a children’s home, or an old people’s home. ‘Families’ can be created in unusual ways these days, and not always in the traditional form.
Thanksgiving is a day that I really appreciate, an opportunity to remember all the things and people I am grateful for. I am truly grateful for my family, but I am also grateful for those who have been a non-traditional family for me, my friends, and people who have joined us for Thanksgiving and at other times.
My wish for you is that you are placed in a family setting for these holidays, either your original family, or a family you created, or that someone else did. My hope for you is that you will share this holiday with people you care about, and who care about you, and that you have much to be grateful for. I send you all my warmest thoughts and wishes for Thanksgiving.
With much love, Danielle