Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Thankful For An (Almost!) Norman Rockwell Thanksgiving

I'm looking forward to tomorrow! We are driving for a couple of hours to the home of one of my sisters, where she is hosting Thanksgiving. Her two young adult children will be there, as will another sister and her husband and daughter, my parents, and my husband and I with two of our children. There will be lots of great food, good catching-up conversation, probably some game-playing, and a joint kitchen clean-up after dinner. Though the location rotates around, the routine and traditions remain pretty much the same from year to year. I've been asked to bring my famous Philly Corn again. Yes, even the menu stays consistent.

Nan had a post up earlier this week that reminded me that not everyone looks forward to family gatherings and overeating. Some of her commenters agreed; they preferred finding congenial friends to visit with over family that was critical or dysfunctional. Others use this time to travel, or find a restaurant meal more inviting than marathon cooking sessions. Even those of us who choose a more Norman Rockwell-style Thanksgiving will often be spending time with folks we see only a couple of times a year, which can lead to potential relational stress.

How to approach that? I'm choosing engagement over avoidance. In our family, we do have a few topics we steer clear of (politics and religion!- though we've broken that rule a few times).
We try to adjust to the home that is hosting. We all offer to bring food. Nobody drinks too much.
We help with clean-up. We don't stay too long! It's been rare that we didn't leave feeling that we had a good time.

I saw a good piece of advice today, that was reminder that family is where we learn to deal with people:

"Envision your family situation as an inspiring growth challenge. If one of your spiritual goals in life is to learn patience, compassion, forgiveness, or serenity, your difficult family members can give you some wonderful “feel the burn” workouts! It’s no sweat to be patient, compassionate, forgiving, or serene with people who aren't in your family, but if you can learn to do it with your most irritating blood relatives, then in looking back at your life you will definitely be able to say you’ve done some crucial inner work on your spiritual journey."
Make Peace With Your Family

Fortunately, this is the approach my family has always taken (not that anyone is too terribly hard to deal with). So, today I'm thankful for the chance to engage with, and enjoy, our family at holiday time!

The November 30 Day Thanksgiving Challenge


Rose said...

Joyce, I've enjoyed all your thankfulness posts this month, even though I know I've forgotten to comment on a few. They've been a good reminder to all of us that we have so many things to be thankful about, if we only just think for a few minutes.

I wish you and your family a very happy Thanksgiving!

Joyce said...

Rose, after I wrote this I saw that you had that great Norman Rockwell illustration on your post. I wish I had thought of that last night, when I was writing!
It's been a long haul to post every day for a month (and not quite done, of course!) but It's been a good discipline for me to think about Thankfulness.