Dear Kosterina Family,
It's no surprise that Thanksgiving looked a little bit different this year. Most of us found ourselves navigating Zoom calls with family across the country, or cooking for four instead of forty. My family, who has a (very competitive but fun!) annual Thanksgiving video competition, promised we would reschedule Thanksgiving for some time in 2021 when it's safe to gather dozens of us in a tiny living room, laughing with joy. We're planning for a Springsgiving.
While I know that prioritizing our community and country's health is most important, especially now, this holiday got me thinking: What does it mean for a family to miss spending Thanksgiving together? Are there consequences for our personal and collective well-being?
Well, we know that social interactions are one of the most important traits for our health and longevity as human beings. One of my favorite researchers, Leonard Mlodinow, wrote a piece for Scientific American back in 2012 about how being social is extremely important for our health - and when the ability to forge relationships with others is cut off abruptly, it impacts our brain, our heart and even our long-term well-being. Some scientists say that loneliness, considered a major epidemic in our world today, is akin to smoking a pack of cigarettes a day.
But, building and maintaining social relationships doesn't necessarily need to be done in the way it always has. While it's definitely most impactful to connect with other human beings in person, we're finding ways to supplement our relationships in this new 2020-world. Author, Celeste Headlee, of We Need To Talk says that even "weak" social interactions, like saying hello to your barista or waving to a fellow passerby on the sidewalk can strengthen our social brain muscles. We can at least do that, right? Or try to see friends outdoors or via FaceTime.
So, even though our Thanksgiving wasn't filled with long catch-ups with cousins, or laughter at a big dinner table this year - maybe it can remind us that we're able to find connection anywhere if we look for it. As per one of my favorite movie quotes, "the sweet is never as sweet without the sour" so I'm sure next year's Thanksgiving will be one for the record books.
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