Thanksgiving is just a couple of days away. For much of the country that means copious amounts of food, time with family, a lifetime of special Holiday memories, feverish shopping, and the gateway to the Christmas, Hanukah, and New Years holidays. It is also a time to reflect and to give thanks, something most of us should probably do more often but take this special opportunity to truly reflect on our blessings.
For many, however, the Holiday season kicking off this week is not nearly so festive or happy. In fact, it can be a very difficult time because it can remind us of all the things we don't have. For those rejected by friends and family all we've got to cling to is painful memories of times gone by. For those struggling financially it is a reminder of all the things we can't afford. For those who are alone it can easily make us feel more alone. All these things can make the Holidays something to survive, not something to enjoy.
I mention this today because it's important to find brothers and sisters who may be struggling and who may need a little extra loving over the Holidays.
For example, I received an email from my electrologist, Maria, in Phoenix, who is a friend to the transgender community unlike any other I've met. She has been a den mother and a friend and a sister and a source of encouragement and a shoulder to cry on for many of us for over these past 25 years. She can't bear the thought of someone being alone over the holidays so she organizes a Thanksgiving Day feast each year and invites anyone who wants to come. This year she's already gotten 30 RSVP's with some making the 6 hour drive from California to attend.
Others around the country are arranging similar events. The important thing to remember, though, is that although they often provide temporary distraction from the day-to-day travails of our lives when the lights go out and the night gets dark it can still be especially difficult to cope.
I say this from experience because I've been there. I know what it's like to be apart from my family and the people I loved most over the holidays. I know what it's like to need to find new traditions to fill gaping holes where old ones that were no longer available to me used to be. They say that difficult times build character. Perhaps. When you're going through them all you know is that it hurts.
Many of us have much to be thankful for. Many of us do not. It is in that spirit of giving that I urge each of us to take time over the Holidays to reach out in some way to those needing help. It is a time to forget labels and petty differences and to focus on far higher ideals - to be an angel to someone who may have lost their own wings for the moment.
The Holidays are upon us. May each of us look for opportunities to share our strength with those in need, our courage with those who may not have found their own yet, our bounties with those who are without, and our smile with those who need one. That is what will help many of us to not only survive the Holidays but to experience them in a whole new way.