|Freedom from Want, Norman Rockwell
A few days before Thanksgiving you are probably picturing what your day will look like. I think its safe to say that most of us won’t look like Norman Rockwell’s version.
I’ve been thinking a lot of how thankfulness and grace are related or how it needs to be. (grace = unmerited favor, giving good to be people when they don’t deserve it.) When it comes to our families, I think we have to embrace a degree of grace to be thankful. To be thankful for what our family is, we must find a way to have grace for what they are not. Grace for what our parents weren’t to us. Grace for decisions that our kids made that we don’t agree with. Grace for conversations that were never had or for stinging words said.
As Americans, we have really high expectations for everything. We expect the best and believe that we deserve it. We need to be better at accepting things that aren’t perfect. The truth is that all families have failures and hurts. To be normal is to be imperfect.
I don’t mean that we should ignore hurts from our families. Its not possible and its definitely not helpful. Its finding a way for hurt and love to coexist. In your case, there might have been much more hurt than love and that should be addressed maybe with your family or with a counselor. If you are going to continue to have a relationship with those who have hurt you, you must find a way to value something about them or that relationship. Otherwise, all you will have is the hurt.
When that “oh no” moment happens, remember that this is just how family gatherings work when there are imperfect people involved. I hope we can have grace for that, maybe address it in our best adult manner, and strive for better next year.
Traditions: The Tie that Binds
Holidays are approaching and I always enjoy hearing how people celebrate these special days. Traditions are a photograph of who we are. One of my pictures would be of my mom reading Oh, the places you will go on Christmas Eve and inevitably crying at some point. For others, traditions help people get to know and understand us, what we hold important and why. For ourselves, traditions connect us and symbolize that we are part of something unique and important.
The connecting and identifying element of traditions are a special element to families that I believe we often overlook in a progressive society that is always trying to do something new. Think about how children look forward to special things all year like putting out cookies for Santa, pulling the turkey’s wishbone or choosing their birthday dinner. Children look forward to these events with anticipation in part because they know they can count on it happening and they know when they do this activity are a part of something special. What security and comfort!
As the holiday season approaches, give a little thought to what you looked forward to as a child, what photo comes to mind to define the season, and what things might bring back the memories of feeling connected, secure, and loved? It might be time to explain to your children why your family has a certain custom or maybe its time to start a tradition that recognizes your family in a new way.
In the end, it doesn’t matter as much what it is you do as long as you do it.