If You're Spending Thanksgiving With Jerks

If you are spending thanksgiving with jerks, then this one is for you.

Some of you have been dreading this annual gathering of family long-since moved out and grown up. You're not looking forward to the political talk or the questions from relatives about your life nor are you wanting to face those age-old insecurities that come creeping back once you're in the same room with your siblings.

I understand.

You feel quite fine in your day-to-day life with those who understand you, but get to feeling two feet tall when cross-examined about your life choices by relations you rarely see. You listen to uncle Larry or cousin Bob, brother Gary or Sister Sue prattle on and on about the same droning topic as in years past, and you feel you could just scream.

You don't want to discuss your job or lack thereof with your uncle who believes you aren't succeeding for lack of trying. You're tired of hearing Sister Sue self-congratulate on her recent exploits. You're sick of people asking why you're single, divorced, or marrying him.

You wish they would stuff it along with the turkey.

You plan to suffer through this thanksgiving with frequent trips to the restroom, outside or to smoke cigarettes. You grit your teeth as you fake a smile for the camera.

You plan to play on your smartphone or scroll through your facebook feed to vicariously escape the drudgery.

I feel you. Here's some advice.

Give them some grace. The Bible says that all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. That includes you and your uncle Larry. If not for Jesus we'd all be up a creek. 

Consider this: uncle Larry probably did not wake up in the morning hoping he would get on your nerves and offend you. Try to see Uncle Larry's life from his point of view. He pushes his views on everyone, because he feels like no one ever listens to him.

Sister Sue self-congratulates because she has always felt insecure and hopes her activities now will make up for that.

Mother-in-Law Lula acts controlling, because she no longer feels needed.

Little brother Scott belches loudly at the table, because it's the only way he's learned to get attention.

Your dad felt overlooked in life and like his dreams were never realized, and so he acts like a grouch toward your successes.

Your mom feels lonely most of the time, and she hogs the conversation whenever anyone is around.

Aunt Sophia asks about your love life, because she actually loves you and is interested in your life.

Your cousin with the strong opinions was bullied a lot as a kid and acts self-important to compensate.

Your Thanksgiving meal sometimes takes very different people with differing strengths and weaknesses, puts them together in the same room, and exposes the vulnerabilities everyone is feeling. We're silently comparing everyone's weight, hairline, success, and failures from where they were last year while falling into old family roles that no longer fit us. Resentments and anger crop up easily as do annoyances and bad habits. What is supposed to be a holiday feast can often bring out the worst in us.

Remember that in spite of the differences and the chaos, that you have been invited in, given a place to take shelter from the cold, and that someone has been busy preparing a meal that took days' worth of planning. Remember that others have traveled long distances to be there with all of you too, spending time, money, and effort to be there.

Try to remember that you, as well as your family, are human and are all in need of some grace.

Remember that from time to time you can be a jerk too.

Happy Thanksgiving. 

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