Remember To Give Thanks For Family This Week

 “In everything, give thanks.” These four simple words from 1 Thessalonians 5:18 speak volumes, especially as we pause to give thanks for our blessings. This is National Family Week and as we celebrate Thanksgiving and the beginning of the official Christmas season, let’s begin at the beginning.

Family—our source, our foundation, our why, our therefore, our yet, our just because—the good, bad, the ugly, the rest of the story. No matter how we define the word or the concept, families matter and deserve recognition and thanks.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, this weekly observance was launched in 1968 to promote strong families. The teacher and administrator who came up with this brilliant idea noticed that children who came from strong, supportive families had better outcomes than children who had to succeed against the odds.

Nowadays families come in all shapes, sizes, and configurations, and there is no right or wrong way to describe what constitutes the units we call our own. Grandparents are doing repeat duty, surrogacy offers couples options they’ve not had before, single parent, same sex, and blended families—the list goes on so it’s important to take a moment and say families really matter.

Whether children live with their biological families, in shelters, or somewhere in between, they deserve to be cherished, cared for, loved, and supported by a responsive village (“It takes a village to raise a child,” so goes the African proverb) . As villagers, we have responsibilities because so goes the family, so goes the community–so goes the community, so goes the world.

Here’s what I mean: growing up I had two sets of parents, (my great aunt and uncle, mother, and father), four grandparents—two of them lived next door, and a constant stream of cousins, aunts, uncles, neighbors, and friends—”family” who were always around. All of them didn’t have a direct bloodline but they were my family, and each contributed to and invested themselves into making me and the world better.

They shared their great expectations and hopes and each left bits of themselves behind, whether it was through their conversations that sometimes included me though most didn’t, to intentional lessons they imparted to keep me strong and focused. As a child, I always felt valued, seen, and important.

This year as we offer thanks for our many blessings, even though everything isn’t perfect, we can count it all joy! No matter what hand we’ve been dealt, there’s someone who’s worse off. We’ve lost beloved family members and others, but this week let’s think about the love, lessons, and laughter.

Hardly a day goes by when I don’t hear my father or grandmother’s advice about perseverance, or I hear Aunt Sallie’s emphatic statements about what her nemesis was doing on the street corners in Memphis. Trust me, you don’t want to know…

This week think about your family and salute family in the larger sense too and lift up, pitch in, and get involved in organizations that promote strong families. When you see parents doing a great job, say so. It’ll make all the difference. If you see problematic behaviors, look for ways to diffuse, correct, and/or offer alternative solutions without making bad matters worse.

Support legislators and legislation aimed at family preservation, affordable housing, safe schools, thriving neighborhoods, and generational opportunity. During this season of thanksgiving, we can offer purposeful thanks, an open hand, a generous heart– our whole selves to create a kinder, gentler world, and we must.

Enjoy your family, be safe, and remember together we can/will do more.

Looking for inspiration, empowerment, uplift, straight talk, an encouraging word to brighten your day? You’ve arrived! Meet Dr. Cynthia Ann Bond Hopson, best-selling author, educator, inspirational speaker, sistergirl–she’s all that and more. Now listen to her new podcast, “Three Stores, Two Cotton Gins, One Remarkable Life: The Journey from There To Here,” and meet her favorite family and friends as they share laughter and heartwarming life lessons. Look for it on this page or wherever you get your favorite podcasts.

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