Thankful or Just Pretending ?

~This I want you to know~

I have written this blog in my head for a few weeks and from different angles. I have stopped myself because I do not want to to offend or hurt anyone. I decided to let the chips fall where they may. The chips will fall exactly as they are meant to fall. I firmly believe this.

With the holiday of thanksgiving just days away there may be resentments around the  dinner table . Deep old hurts and new comments masked as “just joking” may be floating through the air.  There maybe the boastful brother or brother in law or the bragging sister or sister in law.  There is often the aunt or uncle who have the most perfect children. These children are all amazing athletes, busy running a charity,  all while being a stupendous students. Or if they are older these same children are CEO’s, own incredible apartments or homes and are often on the way to having their own perfect offspring. Try to ignore this or at least don’t buy into this person’s need to have you and your family measure up.

There may be great political divides. Even with a moratorium on politics at nearly all thanksgiving dinners, there is often a conversation that quickly escalates and goes awry. You witness, that one sly comment as it is said and the reaction from the other party is fiercely angry. Perhaps, a sentence is uttered and misinterpreted. Immediately one or both people are now upset. Hopefully, you an quickly turn the conversation around or tell a joke.

Often at least one family member is struggling to be part of this family meal. Maybe they are hiding monetary, job or health worries. Perhaps they are distressed about a struggling child or spouse’s physical health, mental health or a drug problem. But, they have shown up. They may look just fine. They have plastered some sort of smile on their face or covered themselves with steel armor. These people are hoping you can’t penetrate their force field of protection. They truly want to be exactly where they are, with you. But, they are afraid of cracking and let the pain out. They may have mastered the art of small talk. Or they cannot say much so they get engrossed in the football game or helping in the kitchen. But, if you really look, you may see these people and their pain. You can let them know that they are seen, noticed and cared for.

Sometimes, a person just doesn’t show up. They can’t make themselves go to this meal even when they have been invited.  They may want desperately to be surrounded by family and all those that have mattered so much to them. Yet, they can’t forgive themselves or other family members. They just aren’t able to let go of the past. Or they don’t know how to start this relationship again. Maybe you can help them begin again.

How many times have we said or heard “family is everything”? Many times we truly believe it. Others times, our actions and words do not show that  the entire family or that one particular person is anything at all. I like to think of families as a group of unruly children. Everyone wants to be heard and noticed all at once. Everyone wants their successes to be be acknowledged and applauded. Even when we act poorly, everyone wants to be accepted and supported in spite of their bad behavior.  Everyone wants to be loved no matter what.

This thanksgiving and all of our days, I hope we can manage to put the old hurts behind us and trust in the fact that we can let the bragging fall on deaf ears. I pray that all our families political pundits stay silent in the same way we wish some politicians would.  We can acknowledge the person who is struggling and let them know we care. My wish is that the person who is unable to show up finds a way to close the family gap if not on this holiday, then another day very soon. I anticipate that we can applaud one another   for showing up even with a plastered on smile. I’d like to count on all of us to love one another in spite of everything. Let’s show each other the true love we carry in our hearts. I believe we can do this because family is in fact everything.

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