That’s the point of Thanksgiving, isn’t it? To break bread together, to join with each other over a table of plenty (or at least, we hope, “enough”), to mend fences, to heal wounds, and to come together.
But we live in a rough time. Post-election, wounds are still raw. Gains and losses are still bitter. And many peoples’ Thanksgivings will be times of strife, if we’re not careful. So, then, what to do?
I’d hope that we’ll seek the more excellent way (I Corinthians 12:31), or in other words, the way of love. I started this month with All Saints and All Souls Day references to honoring our ancestors. Yet for many younger people the necessity of dealing with still-living ancestors and/or elders can become quite a trial.
The reverse quite often is true, too. Older people may have little patience with the things their younger family members value. This is mostly because they don’t understand them, and may even be afraid of them. But they, too, need to remember the way of love.
Both sides seem all too short on respect for the other, too much of the time. But the way of love is a way of respect. It’s an attitude that sets aside the assumptions of failings and seeks out, then abides in the places of agreement. A good start is simply to listen. To seek to hear, more than to be heard.
Only by setting part of our pride, our sense of controlling the situation, and our drive to force others to agree with us, do we find a place of mutual acceptance and peace. It behooves us to remember Wayne Dyer’s thought.
Only when we’re willing to step back from conflict can we truly be at peace with each other. Unfortunately, the hosts too often have to intervene with “rules of conduct in our house.” One of my Beloved’s elders banished all talk of religion and politics from her household on Thanksgiving. It worked, because they all respected Grandma.
But however we do it, we must remember and honor the soul-work of the table, the giving work of the cook(s), and the purpose of this day.
All of us have more to be thankful for than we have reasons to despise each other. Let us strive to remember that, and to act on it.
IMAGES: Many thanks to The Way International for the “Breaking Bread Together” graphic; to Oprah’s Pinterest page, for the quote-image from Iyanla Vanzant; to Quotemaster, for both the quotes from Gertrude Stein and from Gloria Steinem; to QuotePixel for the prayer of St. Francis of Assisi; to Brainy Quote for the wisdom from Wayne Dyer; and to the World Food Program USA on Pinterest, via World Vision and its HungerFree initiative for the Laurie Colwin quote. Many thanks to all of them!