What we’re really talking about is a wonderful day set aside on the fourth Thursday of November when no one diets. I mean, why else would they call it Thanksgiving?
In my humble opinion, Erma Bombeck is a literary icon. She (along with James Thurber, C.S. Lewis and others) was instrumental in developing my love and passion for the written word. I chose a quote from her to start this piece as a humble tribute and to set the tone.
Thanksgiving is here. When I was a child, Christmas was my favorite holiday. But as an adult, I prefer Thanksgiving. (Sidebar: Clearly, the reason for the season is honoring the birth of Jesus. Christmas will always take the gold medal because of that, but all the commercialization and junk that’s been tied to the day is what I can do without.) The main reason I enjoy Thanksgiving more is because it offers an opportunity to be with the ones we love without all the stress and pressure of buying and exchanging presents and all the other hectic holiday hoopla. This is not to say Thanksgiving can’t come with its own brand of drama. You’re just not spending as much money for it and there’s no gift wrapping involved.
The best part about Thanksgiving: being around the people you know and love. The worst part about Thanksgiving: being around the people you know and love.
I was always surprised each year as we’d gather how everything would be going well, until… There was never one specific person who would start the disagreement or loud debate, but there was almost always a disagreement or loud debate. On those rare occasions that were incident free, we’d all sit around after dessert, nursing our stuffed bellies, and savor the silence.
When you’re with people you’ve grown up with or have known for a long time, it’s a beautiful thing. It’s also potentially a hotbed of conflict. These are the people who know you (or at least think they do) very well. They’ve probably seen you at your best and at your worst. You would expect this would be the setting where you could feel most at ease and comfortable.
Sometimes we feel most uncomfortable where we should feel most at home.
It can be a mix of emotions. You’re excited to be together. You love everyone. But there can also be this underlying tension. Will so-and-so grab you-know-who and go off somewhere without you? Will what’s-his-face make you the target for all his jokes which are just thinly veiled insults and criticisms? Will what’s-her-name drink too much again and start telling everyone off one by one? Happy Thanksgiving!
When we gather around the table, how can we make sure no knives are drawn other than to carve the turkey?
This may be an unpopular opinion, but I am Kat Controversy. If there is a proven track record of drama at certain tables, then don’t take a seat. I know it’s not easy. There is a lot of guilt and obligation this time of year. But if you believe there is a greater than 50% chance the dinner will go sideways, don’t go!
As adults we have the right to decide where and how we spend our time.
You may be saying, “But I host every year, I don’t have a choice” or “If I don’t go, I’ll never hear the end of it.” This may all be true. But what is truer still is that tomorrow isn’t promised to any of us. I’m not suggesting blowing people off for no reason. But you have to assess how it’ll be for your mental health first. Sure, you can go and do the right thing but if you leave feeling angry, disgusted, disappointed or sad, was it worth it?
Healthy boundaries are necessary, but not everyone is going to respect them.
I’m sure I’ve written about this subject before. The past couple of years have really been a time of learning and growing for me in this area. My days of people-pleasing are slowly fading away. And I’ve got to be honest, I’ve never felt better. Do I still get pangs of guilt or anxiety from time to time? Of course, I do. But they disappear far more quickly than the regret and hurt I’d take home with me after spending time in a situation I never wanted to be in in the first place.
I’ve come to terms with knowing certain people have an issue with me or think of me in a negative way. That’s their business. I’m accountable to God at the end of each day. If I feel convicted not guilted to be somewhere, then I’ll probably go. If I don’t feel the conviction of the Lord, you won’t see my face at that table.
If you’re in a situation where you can’t get out of going, you still have options. You can set a specific time to get there and a specific time to leave. Nothing says you have to be there all day. If the day is going well, feel free to stay and enjoy yourself. But if you feel the tide shifting or Aunt Bea is opening up that third bottle of wine and it’s only 2 p.m., get out! Get out and don’t look back!
My prayer is you’ll be, as the title says, thank full. May the day remind you to be full of thanks no matter what. I understand there will be days and times when it’ll be hard to give thanks. On those days, in those moments, give thanks for a God who loves you and is able to carry you through any difficult situation.
I’ve had many days over the last couple of years where my thank full was very thank less. But I am always comforted as I talk to God (which is all prayer is: conversation) about how I’m feeling and what I’m facing. I read the Bible and rediscover my hope in His love letter to us all.
Never take my word for it. You know I brought receipts. (Unless otherwise indicated, all bible verses are from biblegateway.com NIV, emphasis added.)
Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)
Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever. (1 Chronicles 16:34)
Dear reader, I truly hope you’ll be able to enjoy the holiday with peace, joy, love and stuffing, lots of stuffing.
Until next time: stay happy, stay healthy, stay in the know.
Look forward to hearing from you,