As families around America gather to give thanks on Thursday, spreading love and sharing our customs will be at the heart of those celebrations. Such special moments help me remember where I come from and draw from the spirit of my grandmother, who raised eight children with kindness and love.
My grandmother was a traditional woman. She believed in God, her country, and her family. She was always there for her 16 grandchildren and enjoyed giving back to her community.
Through her, I learned to love tradition and family. She taught me to embrace my natural roles, appreciate what I have, support my loved ones in times of need, welcome faith to increase mental health, be charitable, be kind, and always reach out to neighbors and friends to strengthen community ties.
1. Embracing My Feminine Roles
My grandmother loved being a wife and cherished motherhood. She devoted herself to her family because she believed it was God’s work.
Modern women are pulled in so many directions it can be difficult to relate to this, but when I became a mother, I suddenly understood. A woman’s role in the home is important for not just her own benefit, but also that of her children and community.
Imparting the gift of feminine influence provides balance in an imbalanced society. Nurturing care is something we all need, and that is a woman’s work. By being there for my children and helping my husband when he has a bad day, I am offering them the love they need to overcome all struggles.
2. Living with Gratitude
I used to fall prey to a victimhood mentality. It’s easy for children to do so because it is an immature state of mind. Whenever I was pitying myself for my family’s poverty or not getting what I wanted, my grandmother smiled and reminded me that I was always fed, clothed, and had a bed of my own to sleep in. She was adamant that I must be thankful to have what I did instead of complaining about what I was lacking.
Then, during my teen years, I experienced serious hardship. My sister and I were homeless for a brief period, and we truly learned the meaning of gratitude as members of our community rallied together to ensure that we could get an apartment and work to care for ourselves.
This reminded me of my grandmother’s lessons, and every day I count my blessings in all avenues of life.
3. Supporting Others
Having a support system is something I am grateful for. My grandmother always offered encouragement and was excited about my dreams.
I never heard her say, “You can’t do that,” or “You won’t make it.” I dream big, but she listened and understood the importance of hope.
I was always able to go to her and know that I could do anything I worked hard enough at. It’s one of the main reasons I can still work through any rejection today.
4. Faith’s Role in Mental Health
Having that support system gave me faith. My grandmother was a churchgoing woman. She knew her God and loved Him and shared that with us.
She lived her faith every day. Grandma gave my sister and me our first rosaries and taught us that faith is a joyous thing. To her, faith wasn’t about what house of worship you go to, but having a connection to one’s Creator to live a meaningful life that looks forward to an existence beyond our material world.
I attribute my ability to keep a healthy mindset to this. Although mental health practices have excluded faith as a method to find balance, scientists are now linking healthy mental states to faith practices. Even Science Direct published findings that linked faith with a healthy sense of life purpose and positive mental health outcomes.
5. Giving to Those in Need
Even though I grew up in poverty, my mother taught me that we can always give something back because there is always someone less fortunate than we are — a lesson that came from my grandmother. This taught me the value of donating my time and funds to the charities and people I know need it most.
One of our favorite family traditions was Christmas caroling with my grandmother every December. Everyone in our family was invited to go around her neighborhood singing on Saint Nick’s Day, and we collected money in a can for the United Way. It spread so much joy and kindness that her neighbors anticipated us each year.
6. Offering Kindness to Promote Happiness
Being good to others was just Grandma’s way of life. She didn’t wish for anyone to speak ill of each other; she believed that was ungodly.
If my sister and I argued in front of her, she would sing, “Let there be peace on earth.” She did not forbid anyone from freely expressing herself but politely let her loved ones know that she wanted everyone to feel loved. She lived to laugh and smile. She knew happiness was spread when people came together by celebrating their similarities instead of arguing over their differences.
7. Being a Community Organizer
My grandmother desired to spread happiness that connected her to her community. She knew women held the key to organizing neighbors and working together. She was active in her church and the glue of the family. Now that she’s gone, I draw from her wisdom every day.
I am a homeschooling mother with five children. I teach at my local co-op, and it is a wonderful blessing that reminds me people are still as loving and kind as they always were.
But family is where it all starts. I appreciate the love my grandmother bestowed, and I am happy to take on the feminine roles she embodied to give my family and our community the grace and dignity that is needed for us to live in harmony.
I feel this duty so strongly that I wrote a book called Reclaiming Femininity: Saving Women’s Traditions & Our Future because I want the beautiful lessons of our grandmothers to live on and heal current societal ailments.
These are the elements that are going to save us. They are the values that my grandmother and the women of her time brought to life in the past, and we can share them again to revive their joys and happiness in the future.