Yes, Thanksgiving is a time to be especially grateful. In most traditional setting, Turkey Day in the US will include cooking, eating, and visiting with family. There are many, many articles that will talk to you about having fun with family, and making that time together memorable. But let’s be real about what those family gatherings really bring together.
Families love each other, and that’s a good thing. But in the midst of the love, some families have endure dramas and traumas–many that are not discussed. As such is the case, a family gathering, can be a place where emotions run high, and hurts are trying their best not to show their ugly faces as they “pass the dressing.”
Why am I writing about this? Why not just write a happy article about celebrating Thanksgiving and being grateful? Because we need to get real about families and family relations.
At The Relationship Firm, all relationships matter, and as such is the case, it wouldn’t be helpful to act as if people are not hurting and struggling through family dinner–especially during a holiday season. So, here are a few issues, and what we can do with them.
Family Issue One: Criticism
This is the worst! It probably started when you were a child, and it hasn’t stopped yet. What do you do with a family or family members who cannot stop with unsolicited feedback about your looks, your love (or lack of), and your life? TELL THEM! You are an adult now, so why not nicely, yet firmly (no pun intended) tell them that you don’t appreciate being spoken to in that manner, or being the subject of their conversations. You do not just have to take that interaction, or that negative energy in. Take authority. Be nice, be calm, and shut them down.
Family Issue Two: Caught in the Middle
Are you in the middle of two or more family members? Has the dispute gone on so long that you have no clue what they are upset about. Maybe you are the peacemaker–if so, try to make peace. But, if you’re ultimately just tired of being in the middle…BOW OUT! Tell that faction and that faction that you are no longer available to them. Again, just because you share DNA does not give people the right to use you as a safe haven.
Family Issue Three: The Lies
Okay, every family has a liar (or lie). Period. If you’re tired of the lie(s), then perhaps it’s time to share the truth. Listen, this is not an encouragement for you to wreck Thanksgiving, but it is an invitation for your to show up as your authentic self this Thanksgiving, and to calmly and nicely deal with the situations that have plagued you for years. Now, if the lies are painful, dinner may not be the time to bring them up…but it may be the time to start dealing with the issue. Does that mean that you start seeing a professional therapist to help you navigate this situation? Is it time to examine the truth…or confess or confront the lie with another family member that you can trust? Lies are dangerous little energy suckers because you spend more energy hiding the lie, than dealing with it. It’s time to deal with it…don’t you agree?
Family Issue Four: Betrayal and other “bad” stuff
Let me tell you something. Once upon a time, one of closest cousins stole from me. She took my credit card right out of my purse…and went and bought many, many, things. I trusted this person, and they betrayed me. I am telling you this because I want you to know that we have all been there. And, if it is still weighing on you, then it’s time to address the matter. Perhaps this is the year that you call that relative aside, AFTER THE MEAL, and bring the issue to their attention. And here’s the twist: Tell them that you forgive them. You’re not bringing them into a quiet corner of Granny’s house to make them feel badly. This is not about revenge. This is about a much needed release. So, speak your truth, and forgive them…now we can all move forward!
While this is not the normal Thanksgiving article, I hope that it helped you all the same. All relationships do matter, and before you pass another plate of peas, roll or other Thanksgiving entree, please decide that this is the year that you will be free of the influence and impact of these (and other) family issues on your life. And by all means, be thankful for the opportunities to bring light to dark areas of your life. That’s always something to be grateful for.
That, and yeast rolls!