So, Thanksgiving is Going to be Interesting…
The period from just before Halloween right up to Christmas is my absolute favorite time of the year. The warmth that comes during this period is something I revel in. I’m always amazed at how I cannot get that warm feeling back after my holiday decorations come down, once that cold winter light sets in. I hang up string lights, I bake cakes, I court disaster with the the glow of half a dozen candles, but try as I may, it just won’t come back. (Unless it snows, and then all is right with the world.)
I know the reason is that the warm feeling I love so much is really centered around the holidays, and the treasured family traditions that come with them. But this year promises to be different and I am struggling with some sadness over it.
Family life, invaded by politics
The recent turn of events has put a damper, to put it lightly, on many of my closest family relationships. I am just not looking forward to seeing my family, or my husband’s family this Thanksgiving and Thanksgiving weekend.
I would gladly take a year off and have an intimate holiday with just our little family unit. But I want to see my nieces and nephews. Since they’ve gotten older, I see them much less, as so often goes. So we do not plan to forfeit the holiday. Instead, I am working on my mind and my attitude. After all, that’s any of us can control.
The game plan…
I need to steel my insides, be a big girl, channel my inner Buddha, and try not to allow my disappointment in my family’s political beliefs to engulf me in negativity. At a minimum, I must be extremely thoughtful in my responses to political conversation, which I will not initiate under any circumstances. The discourse on this topic has gotten so nasty because people are so passionately divided. I understand the passion, but I also understand that name calling does not convince anyone of your arguments, even if it does make you feel better.
My game plan, if I do get embroiled in a conversation about politics, is to focus on the issues that I care about and make my case for them, rather than engage in arguments about people and personalities. This should be effective, as long as I can control myself in the face of my family saying some pretty wacky stuff (at best).
Can’t divorce your family… but that’s what makes them precious.
One shared meal is actually the easy part. Because I need to somehow not let my extreme distaste for my family’s political views harm our relationships. I have an easier time doing this with my parents. It is harder with my contemporaries. But we all only have one family. They are not disposable or exchangeable. Which is why they are so important. Friends can be ditched. Spouses, divorced. But the people whose blood and history you share are irreplaceable.
I have seen families torn apart by less, with each side retreating to their corners, consumed in negativity, hard feelings and contempt. No matter how offended I am by the values they seem to espouse, I do not write people off. Especially family.
What happens when you make a judgement about the character of your closest family members and it’s not good? Is it possible to summon all your effort to simply look past it? I hope so. I will call on the emotions that are tied to my deep, profound memories of childhood, and the bonds of blood.
If it isn’t enough, there’s always that tried and true method for making your family tolerable: copious amounts of alcohol.
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