Here we are, on the threshold of the “Holiday Season” and at least in my office, panic, doubt, self-loathing and dread are already at the table.
The holidays conjure up so many emotions and feelings, not to mention the fact that smell is our most powerful memory and food is akin to love in so many cultures, it’s no wonder that Thanksgiving is the harbinger of dismay for so many.
I’d like to offer some relief if I may.
First: let’s all stop trying to re-create and hold ourselves to the iconic (and fake: it’s just a painting!) Norman Rockwell idyllic image of a family holiday gathering. More often than not, there are fights, drunkenness, the “special” dish drops or is eaten by the dog, we’re missing at least one major ingredient, and Aunt Somebody throws in a snide comment about our housecleaning skills, our hair, or our culinary prowess. I have been working diligently this past week in preparing couples to be each other’s backup, to “have each other’s backs” and however crass the analogy, we often use WWE tag-team wrestling as a model. Instead of pointing out one another’s faults, let’s support one another through what may be an emotionally tough and sometimes unpredictable event. Here’s a link to a post about using yourself up for all the wrong reasons.
Second: better yet, let’s just not invite the offending parties to our homes. I know, how dare I say something so utterly insane? But really, if the definition of insanity is doing the same thing again and again and expecting a different outcome, then who is the insane one if Aunt So-And-So continues to be invited year after year? Embrace instead the mindset of what I have coined “the velvet rope” and set a clear, yet still somewhat inviting, boundary for the offending parties. The velvet rope is my analogy for the place we’d like to go but that place has some rules and guidelines about what kind of behavior (think moral, value) is required to ensure entry. It’s always toughest the first time when we say, essentially, “no thank you” to someone’s presence, but I assure you it gets easier as time goes on.
Third: let’s use the 80/20 principle in shifting the focus. Instead of focusing on the 20% that is awful or uncomfortable or disappointing, rather let’s focus on the 80% that we do like about our lives and the holiday. And let’s use our own lenses in this exercise, not the one that the media (e.g: Norman Rockwell et al) has set as the bar. We all have so much to be thankful for, there is a lot of good going on in our world, but it may not appear so if you go by what the “news” points out as important.
Here, I’ll go first. I am thankful for my loving husband and family, for a thriving practice where I feel blessed to be invited into so many miraculous lives every day. I am thankful for a dry, warm, safe home, enough of what I truly need, and the ability to keep doing what I love week after week. I am thankful for those whom I love who are far away, thankful that even in their struggles they are getting up each and every day and making a go of it again and again. I am thankful for finally buying a real turkey roaster pan and seeing how we will “christen” it this year, and I am thankful for the minor disasters of this year’s event that will become humorous stories in future years that will mark the thread of our lives together and the passing of time.
As my final gift to you this Thanksgiving, here’s a funny to make it through for those of you who need a good chuckle. Hint: it’s a letter from an OCD matriarch that makes Mommie Dearest look like June Cleaver.
I wish one and all a Happy Thanksgiving.