Having a family is important to all of us at a very deep and primal level. This is why we come “home” together during important holidays, such as Thanksgiving, to celebrate together and renew our connections.
But maybe you and your scattered family members are like mine – SO different and yet SO alike? Differences in religion and politics, child-rearing, even diet, can make us wonder how we all came from the same roots. How are we the same? We all think we are right.
Then there is the matter of personality conflicts and triggers due to unhealed family issues. Until the day my mother died (I was 50), whenever I showed up at her house the teenager in me got into an argument with the critic in her.
How do we help ourselves and everyone else to have a positive Thanksgiving experience?
FAMILY rules on Thanksgiving –
Bring good memories and appreciations. Leave the criticisms home.
Many of us, no matter our age, go “home” to a family needing to be loved and validated. As we have grown in awareness, perhaps we know that we don’t need validation from others, even family. As peacemakers, our role is to give to others the deep validation we always wanted. You may be surprised at how quickly relationships can shift.
In preparation for the gathering, journal about some great memories about each person in the family and list their best qualities, especially the people you sometimes have friction with. This way you are prepared to share them and help everyone feel loved and appreciated. Perhaps you have family photos/old movies to share?
FOOD rules on Thanksgiving –
Bring something you’re proud to share.
We celebrate Thanksgiving to give thanks for the good in our lives and we share an abundant feast as a symbol for our abundant blessings. We all love turkey with all the trimmings. If we are vegan or food sensitive, we can bring our own best specialties to share. The point is to enjoy the “fruit of the harvest” and give thanks for our plenty. So, GIVE your best dishes… perhaps list the ingredients on a little card as a thoughtful gesture…
GRATITUDE rules on Thanksgiving –
Bring an “attitude of gratitude.”
If we show up with an “attitude of gratitude” for our many blessings, including our family, we will enjoy the day more and so will everyone else. Try initiating conversations about the beautiful… weather, setting, feast, recipes, etc. and ask what other people are grateful for.
You might bring a game you enjoy. Or bring some extra flowers or a box of special chocolates to share or a trinket for the children, just to show your gratitude for having a family to share the holiday with.
KINDNESS rules on Thanksgiving –
Bring a friend.
Do you know someone who is alone this Thanksgiving? It’s a really lonely day when everyone else is unavailable because they are with their family. I remember. If you can invite that friend to share your family holiday, everyone wins. They feel included and you and others are less likely to be triggered. If you have a young child without cousins, perhaps he or she has a friend with a single mom or dad.
INTERACTIONS rule on Thanksgiving.
Bring a smile.
LISTEN! Be prepared to listen carefully to what people are saying, without formulating your own answer while they speak. If you feel an argument brewing, PIVOT! We may think our family members are “dead wrong” about something or they us and we are tempted on all sides to “set them straight.” Not Today!
So, even if someone does or does not correct their child as you would do, even if someone voted for the OPPOSITE political party and tries to make you wrong, you can agree to disagree in the name of family peace and PIVOT to something positive like one of those great memories you wrote about.
Happy Thanksgiving – have a great celebration!