A thought for Thanksgiving

Like lots of other things, Thanksgiving is different for me this year. I’m much more easygoing, and I can’t imagine letting anything take that away. This, I say, despite the fact that big family get-togethers are always fraught with possibilities for misunderstandings, hurt feelings, unintended slights – the whole schmear. But I’ve had so much else on my mind these last few months that I haven’t had a chance to get hyped up about the upcoming holiday. In the long run, that’s probably going to make it more enjoyable.

I heard a piece on NPR this morning by someone who was anticipating a big, messy family get-together this week. He talked about the family members and close friends who invariably come together at holiday time and hurt each other’s feelings, even though that was the farthest thing from their minds. Speaking to his own TG guests, he asked them to be considerate of each other – noting that as we age we sometimes find our skin getting thinner.

What one thinks is funny, he said, might be hurtful to another – and the speaker had reason to anticipate that hurt but just didn’t think about it. Of the offended ones, he asked that they just excuse themselves from the gathering for a few minutes and try to come back when they can do so without the offense or hurt, which nine times out of ten is unintended. He asked everyone to think, “Can’t we all just get along?” and also to say it if they think it would help in the moment.

He went on to talk about some of the personalities that come to his family’s gathering – the one who’s remained single well into middle age, the one who’s out of work and wondering what’s next, the one whose spouse doesn’t want to come to family gatherings, the inveterate comic who tells the same old jokes that continue to make people groan ... or that single out a small group and make them want to crawl under the table, the one who remembers a loved one not with us this year and is having trouble getting through this day. Some of it sounded familiar ... some not.

It’s a tall order, I know. But I hope everyone can “just get along.” I’ll try to think about this, too, as we get ready for a week of togetherness that just may be too long for some and not long enough for others.

Happy turkey, everyone! And whether you eat turkey or not, gobble gobble!