We had Thanksgiving dinner with my family this year. When my brother announced that he’d be hosting the day (late last summer) I didn’t think I’d be going. So many family holiday gatherings have been less than joy-filled for me. At times they seemed more like emotional endurance contests, than times of happy connection and grateful sharing of life’s goodness. But over the past few months, as I thought about Thanksgiving day, I knew that I would be going to my brother’s house…… but how? How could I go, and have a different experience?
I didn’t want to just make it through the day. I didn’t want to be praying constantly to feel acceptance. I didn’t want to be so exhausted by the end of our time together, that I felt as if I’d been through the emotional wringer. I didn’t want to be so unconscious that I’d leave wondering why I’d said things (that in retrospect) were spoken from a nervous energy. I didn’t want to be artificially quiet, or feel the need to tell jokes and be the life of the party. I knew what I didn’t want, but what I didn’t want, seemed to be what my past experience (with family) was.
Early Thanksgiving morning, sitting with my coffee, outside, before the sun came up, I looked at the sky and the stars and this idea came; “Go today with the thought that you’ve never met any of these people before, as if you’ve had no past….at all. Look with interest, listen with interest, because you want to find out who they are. And, you want to be delighted with what you find out about each one….so you are going to have to look for it.”
This thought/divine idea, filled me with a new kind of energy. I instantly felt different about the day. I was excited. I was looking forward to seeing everyone….and I could hardly believe it. It was as if I’d been tapped with a magic wand and suddenly I was free of past….or negative past.
So, now to the actual day…and what happened.
Wonder, happiness, connection, love….these are what happened. As we drove home that night I kept thinking about this, and knew I’d share it here. What I saw, in stark relief, was something I’ve experienced in many areas of my life before, but never so clearly with an issue that seemed like it had been there forever: tension with my family.
What I experienced was this: as soon as I changed (really changed, didn’t just put on a facade of happiness or love) everything and everyone changed to meet the new me.
“I am here… the shadows of the things that would have been, may be dispelled. They will be. I know they will!” page 118, from A Christmas Carol, by Charles Dickens