I was a Marriage and Family therapist when I had a practice several years ago. It was a very lively and interesting part of my career. From the couple who took two minutes to work up to yelling at each other to the family struggling with the issues of a distraught teenager to the kid who refused to eat anything but macaroni and cheese, the cases I encountered of family struggles were always challenging. I enjoyed being in there with them! Maybe that says something about my craziness!
But from the varied experience of my own family, I know that family is such an essential and basic aspect of our growing up. It is the place where we learn how to be human beings and how to socialize and communicate. It is where we learn about work, self worth, authority and of course, love. With Thanksgiving upon us, most of us will share some family time this week. How should we approach it?
Our Catholic faith puts family as a cornerstone of our lives. In our marital relationship, our sibling relationship, our relationship with our parents, or our relationship with our children, family is a pivotal place where God’s command to love is carried out. If those relations are good, please send off a prayer of Thanksgiving, and let your family know how much they are loved. Put into words your appreciation. Thank God for the joy that he gives us in loving others who matter to us. If the relations are conflicted, pray nonetheless. Pray for God’s grace to accept, to make amends, to forgive, or to ask for forgiveness. Ask for God to enter into your heart and mend the brokenness, the frayed edges, the worries, the anger, the loss. Make a resolution, if possible, to learn how to endure the burden of family, however it occurs in your life. And know that you are a child of God, loved by God, who wants for you to know your dignity and value. May the holidays be a time of grace and appreciation for God’s presence in our lives.