Happy Thanksgiving Eve, friends! Are you reading this only because you are taking a break between pie recipes and adding one more flavor to the turkey brine? Is your apron dusted with flour and are your fingers sticky from lemon juice and Karo syrup?
Is your home filled with travelers and kids out of school, or are you home from the office and soaking up the quiet? Uh oh, are you at the grocery store right now? I’ll light a candle for you. My favorite local spot this afternoon was a bustling, happy place; but I can only imagine things will deteriorate gradually hour by hour. Ha.
However you are spending this beautiful evening, I hope you are happy and feeling loved. Truly. I am thankful for you and have love to spare because it has been heaped upon me.
Already late November. And in Oklahoma our weather only just cooled down, my chartreuse sweet potato vines only turned black two days ago, so the suddenness of the calendar is mixed with the weird anti-climax feeling like summer just ended, sort of, but also in a far away dream? Our autumns here are not like other autumns. They are elusive and indecisive.
New topic. I need to prepare for something and hope you’ll join in, maybe help me:
Is it funny-not-funny to anyone else that we are thrust into the holiday season immediately following such a pivotal and hotly contested election season? LOL. I mean, I’m not really LOL-ing, but I’m trying.
And it is definitely not that I have any disdain for the holidays. I treasure each of them. It’s the election and all the fallout that have me wound up. And at the holidays we spend time with people we don’t see very often. People we love, of course, or else why would we gather? But the relatively (no pun intended) brief gatherings can be a bit risky. We don’t necessarily have that smooth, easy, conversational rhythm set in place, you know? There is often a little rust that needs kicking off. And Thanksgiving dinner is just the beginning of about seven weeks of celebrating.
Cut to the chase: Either people agree on hot topics and can openly discuss them in safety and commiseration; or people disagree and get into fights, clinging to beliefs over bonds. God forbid either of these happens when people are wildly inebriated. I get nervous just thinking about the fallout of a political “debate” rising up like black crude in the otherwise verdant wildflower meadow of a family gathering.
To further this ridiculous metaphor, I guess it could be true that political discussions are nourishing to our families, like oil to our modern society, but MY GOSH it scares me. I vote for the meadow, ok?
Here’s the opposite extreme: I also don’t want to waste our precious time with family and friends time skirting so delicately around key topics that we only manage small talk. That’s weak.
There has to be a safe, beautiful, fruitful middle ground. There’s an ocean between these two dangerous extremes, right? Can we swim there happily, exchange some ideas and make some memories without hurting each other? I sure hope so.
I would like to tell you how sorry I am for all these mixed metaphors but really tomorrow we will start mixing foods, so oh well. Ha.
Okay, here are some possible conversation alternatives:
- Weather lately (easy)
- Health issues (obvious)
- What is the weirdest thing you saw on your travels to get there?
- What food are you most excited about? Do you know the recipe’s origin story in our family? Which recipes do you have memorized from making so long?
- Do you know anyone who skips the holidays or eschews tradition? (Our friend Maribeth serves her family steak on Thanksgiving and they love it! And I love her.)
- The year is almost over. Tell each other all about how your 2016 goals and resolutions are going.
- What plans do you already have for next year? What would you do if money were no object? What would you do if you could not spend any money?
- What stands out for you this past year? What prayers were answered? What have you learned?
- How would you improve the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade? Carte blanche!
Design a new reality show casting everyone sitting at your holiday dinner table. (WAIT nope, better scratch that idea, haha. Never mind on that one. Terrible terrible idea.)
- What reality shows would you maybe be on?
- Thinking of the Native Americans showing the Pilgrims how to grow crops in a new land, what culture around the world would you most like to learn from? And, if not turkey and mashed potatoes, what kind of feast would you like to explore?
- What is your favorite Thanksgiving kids craft? What is the dumbest thing you’ve ever seen?
- Talk about charity efforts or community events or light displays.
- Debate Black Friday ethics.
- Talk about football.
- Books and movies, music specials, and where to hike.
- Specifically Christmas movies! What are the best ones? What are the worst?
- Favorite SNL cast member or skit?
- Talk about how much we all love Russell Westbrook and Steven Adams.
- See who has the best story to share about a holiday kitchen failure.
- Debate whether to let your food touch or not.
It goes without saying that for these family gatherings especially, but always, our hearts should be firmly set on gratitude. Drop expectations of each other and look for the best to shine through. It usually does. Resist the urge to compare and fish for conflict or hurt feelings. Feed the common ground you have, and it will only grow stronger. Show appreciation for each other, memorize each other’s faces, be sure your voice spreads only Love.
(I am telling myself all of this stuff, ok?)
Happy Thanksgiving!! I hope your celebration is everything you and your people need it to be. Please let me know how you plan to navigate things.
My favorite SNL skit is where Paul Simon and Victoria Jackson
smelt Christmas gifts on a desert island.
And I have had so many prayers
answered this year it’s not even fair.