Thanksgiving Traditions in the Mercy Home
November, 24, 2016
The excitement of Thanksgiving has reached the Mercy Multiplied homes. Each year is steeped in tradition and fun as the Mercy residents spend their Thanksgiving holiday surrounded by their Mercy sisters and staff. The preparation begins several days before “the big day” with large shopping lists and the opportunity for residents to help with the Thanksgiving feast. Residents that want to assist in dinner and decoration preparation sign up in advance and, with the supervision of staff, help prepare the meal and transform the dining room into a beautiful banquet area for Thanksgiving dinner.
The staff works together to ensure that the entire day is full and fun. As the residents are away from their friends and families, staff is passionate about creating an atmosphere of unity and love. In addition to a delicious meal, the residents partake in activities outside their normal routine. The day is full of games and competitions, watching movies, the Thanksgiving Day parade, football, eating special snacks, and spending time with one another relaxing. Each resident has opportunities throughout the day to call home and connect with family and friends. Fully understanding the reality of homesickness, staff takes special care to fill the day with holiday excitement, space for reflection, and community.
A favorite part of the day is the time spent sharing “thankfulness” around the dinner tables, usually separated, but on this day, pushed into one long table for Thanksgiving! The residents and staff each share something they are thankful for, and the time is very impactful for all involved. With all the preparation and care in the details of the day, Mercy staff hope to aid in bring redemption to the holidays. Many of the young women in our program have painful past experiences around the holidays, and this time of year is not necessarily anticipated, but rather dreaded. Each year, Thanksgiving brings a bit of unexpected hope and redemption to many of the residents in our Mercy homes!
A few of the Mercy staff had this to share about the experience:
“My favorite part of the Thanksgiving holiday is the peace that each girl experiences during what can be a very tense time of year. Many of the residents reflect on how holidays are often painful or anxiety-ridden, but their experience at Mercy helps them to see that holidays can be times to make beautiful memories. When I was a child, holidays were filled with arguments and tension, so I know how healing it can be to experience peace and calm and fun instead of drama. I love getting to see the hope instilled in these young women’s hearts as they learn that holidays are something that they can choose to make memories and reflect on the faithfulness and goodness of God.” – Mistylena, Nutrition Manager
“I love getting the chance to help redeem the holiday for so many girls.I love the genuine tears of gratitude during the “Thankful Thursday” sharing – tears that say, “I feel so loved, and cherished, and valuable and seen.” I love stepping outside of my normal role, and getting in the kitchen and creating special memories with them and showing them how to create something, a legacy, of memories for their future families as well. Nothing brings you back like a sensory memory…and most of the time that memory leads you straight to a kitchen. I love being part of our girls creating homes that brings smiles to their family member’s faces for generations.” – Katie, Administrative Assistant
“My favorite part, as the nutrition manager, is getting to show the residents with food-related issues that there is freedom in enjoying this rich and delicious meal with your community. This meal can be very challenging for some residents, and I always see small victories on this day when we pray ahead of time and ask the Lord to walk with them through every step of this meal. God is always faithful to provide!” – Rachel, Nutrition Manager
“It’s amazing to see the residents come together and create new Thanksgiving traditions and memories. For some of our residents it’s the first time they have an opportunity to experience Thanksgiving with hope and thankfulness. I remember a resident telling she was was just so thankful that she had hope for her future. Mercy provides that hope by giving a safe and loving environment for residents to experience healing. Just sitting down having a family dinner is so healing for our residents.” – Rachel, Administrative Assistant
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