Thanksgiving can be a difficult day for people without family to visit but sometimes the difficulty is especially for people WITH family to visit. Family that we love dearly but want to keep at arms length, or maybe the people who are the anchors in our lives but anchors that we feel might hold us back. But what is really holding us back?
Mothers and Fathers know us much more intimately than anyone else in our lives and maybe what is holding us back isn’t their over bearing love for us, maybe it’s that we know what they know about us.
We think we know so much of what others are thinking of us. The truth is, we don’t know. And, not only that, if what we think we know and we think it’s negative, we will suspect those that are closest to us of seeing us for only our faults because maybe that’s all we listen for when we talk with them. We listen for them to hurt us, and we listen intently, sometimes completely missing anything positive.
Stop assuming the negative. Listen, this is not the time to concentrate on GMO’s and fat and calories. Eat the friggin pie, gorge on the potatoes, scarf up the saline injected, genetically modified turkey. Food is the side topic this year, you know it has always been the FOOD that lets you down, like the boyfriend that doesn’t call you back the next day, you are left regretful. Ouch. Don’t take it out on your family this time! This Thanksgiving, the challenge is going Negative Free.
I once heard that it takes 7 positive expressions to offset ONE SINGLE negative. Why is it so hard to erase the negative? Any reprove can and will be hung around a person’s neck like a millstone, be aware of this before speaking because any hint of a reprove is for some reason the only words that will come to mind when those people think of you. 7 times 700 is sometimes not enough to clear it up. Murder is more easily forgiven.
And if you think the parent child relationship is difficult, dare we move on to the spousal relationship that may have gone sideways during the preparation of the meal? Electric knives may have been invented to cut the tension not the turkey. Husbands listen up, remind your wife that she is fantastic. Tell her the food was terrific, – and this part is important — tell her loudly in front of the family – even as they pour on more gravy to camouflage the overcooked white meat. Assure her that you are proud that she made such a wonderful event for you all. “Here-Here!”
Wives, (moms, cooks, dishwashers) – don’t fret over the food, don’t worry if it’s not the best. DO compliment your family, don’t point out — ANYTHING — just don’t, just tip that wine glass and let it go.
Kids, help your parents in the kitchen, the less mom has to say to you the more likely you won’t hear any words you find “negative” or heaven forbid, “offensive” – so without prompting, be ready to give service. TIP: Christmas is close at hand and there are tremendous bonus points to be made here. Play your cards right and the redeemable points will be better than Macy’s Star Rewards.
At the table, focus on the blessings of the year. Between chewing, have great conversation, ask positive questions, “what made you laugh hardest this year?” – “What was your favorite story this year that someone shared with you about their life?” – “What was the best thing you remember happening this year?” – avoid talking about the negative people in your life. Who lifted you up the most this year? How?
Listen with your heart. Pay attention in an honest way. If you can, record an interview with grandma or grandpa or Aunt Mary or Uncle Joe – discuss one of their favorite memories or how they spent a childhood Thanksgiving – maybe you have heard that story a million times – or maybe you really haven’t because you’d stopped listening? But your children’s children haven’t, they’ll appreciate in 30 years to have a recorded touchstone to their past. Tangible photographs, written words, author the moment and cherish it in a scrap book. Don’t just prop it up on Facebook for it to dissolve into vapor with 22 likes.
But most importantly, live life right then and there with the people that are in front of you. Leave your social media undisturbed for a while, treat your family like you would treat an old friend, be in the moment and truly be with whomever you are with this Thanksgiving. We all want to be “liked” because we all want to be listened to and we all want our turn to talk. Talk nice, don’t be guarded but don’t be bitter – laugh alot and listen well with purpose and enthusiasm.
Be REAL and be HONEST, just don’t be REAL HONEST. There does need to be limits. Remember, the Best Memories are THE BEST MEMORIES!
Enjoy the wonderfully confusing bounty of blessings that come of this, America’s First Holiday.