For many of us, Thanksgiving means spending time with our families, carrying out traditions that we’ve practiced for years.
While it can be stressful, messy and challenging to spend time with family members you don’t see very often, it can also be a beautiful time of re-centering.
Traditions serve a psychological function. By repeating the same traditional activity with the same group of people over the years, we construct a chronological record of who we’ve been before – and who we are now. It’s a hidden way of staying in touch with the consistent elements of our identities, and it allows us to track ourselves as we develop and change.
Traditions give us an opportunity to become psychologically close to the person that we used to be in childhood, or adolescence – or even as recently as last year. And that’s something to be thankful for.