A family therapist called in to the Diane Rehm show this morning and said when his church has done pre-Thanksgiving seminars to help people deal with tensions, these are some of the most attended classes! Rehm asked him to give some suggestions for family relationships at Thanksgiving.
He said the key is putting aside differences for the 24 hours or so family gathers and value the family as a whole.
I would add the following suggestion. Ask yourself, “In what ways do people have to ‘put up with’ ME during the holidays?” What if you listed a few of those things on an index card and put the card in your pocket for your gathering?
On the other side of the card, you could list positive qualities of family members and add them discretely during the day. I’m going to try these two exercises this Thanksgiving, and see if I become a brighter and more thankful presence where we are.
One problem comes when someone thinks he or she is not part of the family problem or dynamic. Along with putting aside differences, we ought to realize that we are each part of the family dynamic. So, what are you doing to address the problem about which you are complaining? You may not be instigating a problem, but your response or lack of one IS part of the dynamic.
Take a deep breath, drink in the atmosphere of family, food, fellowship, and tell people around you that you’re thankful for them, quirky as they (and you!) are. We don’t chose our families, but we chose the way we respond to family.