“It’s great to see you. How have you been?”
“Fine. And you.”
Silence. That awkward thud of what to say now.
How many of those conversations are you about to have this week? With Aunt Susan, Uncle John, Cousin Bob and even your mother or sister.
Or, here’s another one –
“The food sure is good.”
“What did you put in the beans this year? They taste different.”
We had many of those growing up. Sitting around my southern grandmother’s decorated table. All twelve of us. With nothing more to connect over than my grandmother’s cooking. It’s sad to think about now. Her finery and hours in the kitchen deserved more than meaningless chit-chat.
This year, I’m daring you … be bold. Be the family provocateur. The one that takes it deeper. From the outside to the inside. From the concrete to the invisible. From thoughts to feelings. From the protected to the vulnerable. From the superficial to what matters.
We know you love these people, or you wouldn’t keep showing up at the holiday table (unless you are still stuck in obligation – tell me this is not true). So, find out what you love about these people you call family. And more importantly, show them what there is to love inside you.
This past year, what brought you pain? What did you struggle with? What are you longing for? What keeps you up at night and wakes you in the morning? What scares you? Delights you? What have you gained since you last sat in that chair eating turkey? And what have you lost? What made you laugh? What made you cry? What have you learned and how have you changed?
I recall my favorite Thanksgiving. It was way back in my first marriage, pre-kids. A few of us adult orphans came together last minute for that typical Washington DC potluck holiday. We made the turkey and pie, they brought the required side dishes. We sat at the table around 5 o’clock and we didn’t get up until well after midnight. Granted, many bottles of wine flowed, but more importantly did the conversation and connection. As the hours flew, the vulnerability ripened. We conversed and laughed. Pain and promise. Good and bad. One woman came out as bi-sexual. Tears needed tissues. Bill fell asleep at the table.
Sadly, face-to-face connection is becoming a lost art. Community, dining, sitting around the table for ten minutes, if at all, is becoming obsolete.
But, we still have Thanksgiving. No religion needed. No gifts to rush to. Just food, and table, and people. Once a year we pull out the nice china. We have an assigned seat waiting for us.
So, for God’s sake, sit. Stay. Talk. Connect. Go deep. Have a feeling. Touch a heart. Shed a tear. Tell a story. Actively love the eyes and hearts across from you.
It’s once a year. At the table. Unplugged. Go deeper. Make it meaningful.
For the rise of your life …