As we approach Thanksgiving this year, the shorter days and the holiday season inspire thoughts of family on a dark night. Although we do not celebrate Thanksgiving here in the UK, I find that this time of year makes me grateful for the warmth of home. However, we should remember that home does not always provide the safety and comfort that many of us enjoy. As we give thanks for those that we love this year, remember those for whom family and home has a different shape.
The friendships we forge as we travel through life can become as important, if not more important, than our family. For some of us, the bonds that are made during school or college years can stay with us for life. The experiences of our time in school are powerful, shaping us as we grow into adult life. Sharing these memories with old friends can bring a joy and comfort that is more valuable to us than family.
For others, the camaraderie of military service can create bonds that transcend simple friendship. This shared experience brings about a closeness that can be hard to understand for those of us who have never been through such adversity. For veterans who have given so much, sometimes only other veterans can provide the feeling of family that they need upon their return home.
We should also consider that some family members have four legs. My family has recently welcomed a new member into our home, and even after a few short weeks, our clever and funny puppy has filled the house with joy. I feel it is a privilege to be able to care for an animal and have found that she has amply repaid our devotion with loyalty and love. And sticks from the garden.
Humans have lived with animals for thousands of years, sharing warmth and food in exchange for companionship, protection, and a willing work partner. I have spent the last few weeks searching the internet for dog food and puppy toys, and the wonders of modern marketing mean that my social media is now filled with stories about dogs. Alongside watching the usual array of cute puppy videos, I have read stories about some of the bravest four-legged companions that anyone could hope for.
Whether in the wake of natural disasters or darker events, dogs provide invaluable service. They work tirelessly alongside their human companions to rescue survivors from rubble and provide emotional support for emergency workers. Even on the darkest days, a few moments spent with a furry friend can lift the spirits and renew the drive to carry on.
Dogs continue to provide such comfort away from these stressful situations. They can be found providing welfare in hospitals and delivering a calming presence for schools. In our homes, a waggy tail and a big hug at the end of the day can be just enough to help us through uncertain times or emotional hardship. For those who depend upon pets as their family, we give thanks for the love they provide.
So, as you sit with your loved ones and your chosen family this week, please take a moment to remember that we are different. We all give thanks in our own way. With that in mind, I wish you a wonderful Thanksgiving. However you celebrate, I hope that you may find peace and love in the home that you share with those you care about.
And maybe some sticks from the garden.