By Sarah Goldberg
Growing up with divorced parents, the Thanksgiving holiday was always a little complicated. When you’re Jewish, almost every holiday you celebrate has two (or more) nights – one for each parent. But Thanksgiving is just a single day and night. One particularly memorable year in college, my sister and I celebrated three Thanksgivings: holiday lunch with mom’s side, turkey dinner with dad’s family, and then pumpkin pie with a cousin who was hosting her in-laws.
As hectic as it was, three Thanksgiving celebrations meant more chances to reflect on what I felt thankful for, and more of what I consider the best meal of the year (I can’t get enough sweet potato casserole with marshmallows on top). More importantly, I spent the holiday enjoying time with pretty much my entire family – parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins on both sides. It was a perfect day to piece together my family health history.
Like many Jewish families, when my relatives and I get together, we share stories and eat traditional meals cooked from recipes that have been passed down for generations. But we don’t talk nearly enough about another piece of our family history: health conditions that may be inherited, too. I might know that my uncle has one health affliction and my grandma passed away from another, but different family members have other knowledge and together we hold more pieces to the puzzle. Putting it all together can help us protect our health and the health of our loved ones.
The Thanksgiving holiday brings families together – whether you have three celebrations, like me, or it’s a simpler affair – to pause and reflect. This year, take the time to reflect on your family health history as well. Discuss your own information, ask questions of other family members, compare notes, and, ultimately, share this knowledge with your healthcare provider and encourage your relatives to do the same. Hopefully, these conversations will help to keep us thankful for our health for years to come.
Not sure how to get started? Learn more about family health history and find tools and worksheets to help you collect key information on our family health history page.