National Reconciliation Day

In Relationships by Elizabeth Stephenson

Back in 1989, National Advice Columnist, Ann Landers, received a letter from a reader that lamented how “the years are flying by” and how he has grown apart from his parents and relatives, who are all growing old and getting sick. The reader also recalled the regrets of lifelong friendships and relationships that had completely fallen apart based on “the feelings I`ve hurt, and I recall my own hurt feelings-the misunderstandings and unmended fences that separated us and set up barriers.”

The reader therefore proposed “Reconciliation Day”, which “could be set aside to reach out and make amends” and when “[e]veryone would vow to write a letter or make a phone call and mend a strained or broken relationship.” It would also be a day “on which we would all agree to accept the olive branch extended by a former friend”, and that this day would be a starting point for a “new beginning”.

In response, Landers replied: “What a beautiful idea. In the absence of a national holiday, it would be wonderful if every person who sees your letter picked up the phone today and called someone with whom he or she has had a falling out.” This simple exchange really resonated with Landers readers, and over time has actually resulted in National Reconciliation Day.

Although reconciliation day fell on April 2nd this year, there’s no time like the present. Unhealthy relationships aside, the concept of Reconciliation Day should be a reminder to appreciate and cherish the relationships you have, maybe with a simple text or email to people you love that shows your appreciation. For close relationships that have grown apart or dissolved, take some time to identify these friends or family members. Acknowledge why the relationship fell apart, remember the good times and bad, and decide which fences are worth mending. If they are, make a plan to extend an olive branch. While it is an emotional risk to do so, it may help you let go of some long-standing regrets.

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