IT'S THAT time of year, a time to look forward to gatherings and touch base with loved ones, a time of reunion.
I love Thanksgiving because it doesn't involve gifts.
It is not a religious holiday, but it comes close because it involves a kind of American celebration all its own, of giving thanks for what we have and hoping that somehow those who don't have anything manage at least to get fed.
But there can be a down side to holiday get-togethers.
Many psychologists warn us to beware of the holiday blues and to beware of great expectations.
When families gather, there can be small remarks made, small hurts, small comparisons, nuances that can smolder for a long time.
Granted that loneliness can be exacerbated at this time of year. For the lonely, the ill, it is another ball game.
Yet the fact is that we all need something to look forward to, and it doesn't hurt to try to spread good will.
You may come away with a new look at your offspring, or maybe you see something you don't like or someone who gives you a new worry: A relative is too thin, someone is too tired, someone isn't doing well in school. So a parent worries, and holidays exacerbate anxieties.
I was told by my oldest son at a family gathering that I worry too much.
Yes, I do.
You've raised your children and you think that after you've seen them through the early concerns of earaches and measles, then cars and ambulance sirens, their heartbreaks, relationships and weddings -- you think your concerns lessen.
Not so, never so.
They have children and your field of anxieties widens. I guess to not worry would be too easy for me.
When the holiday comes, I try to turn off the worry buttons, I try not to interfere. This is probably the hardest trait to develop as your get older.
So I told my son this summer: "Yes, I worry, but it gives my something to do and keeps me from worrying about myself. It's kind of a mother's prerogative."
It's like a hobby. I think I may actually enjoy worry.
Some friends of ours who have five children moved to Florida two years ago where none of their children live. They loved it; "Free at last," she told me. They were going to enjoy their golden years.
But when I saw her recently, things had changed. Their health had failed, and yes, she wanted to move back nearer to her children.
I told my son, "Let me explain myself to you. There is a difference between interfering -- and I hope I don't do that too much -- and intercession."
I call what I do "intercession."
My interceding is in the form of gentle communication, hopefulness and subliminal prayer, and that is different from interfering directly.
So as we parents run swiftly into the season and worry levels rise as everyone gets stressed out, I say let those of us who fret carry on, then let the happy times roll.