Here’s how it often works:
Extended families will drive or fly for hours to converge in one location.
They will spend half of a day or more, creating the most mouthwatering feast imaginable.
And then they’ll sit down at the table and give each other indigestion.
Not from the food, mind you.
From the conversation.
Not everyone finds themselves in this situation on Turkey Day. My wife and I, for example, have opted for a low-key day where our only chance of eating turkey is if it comes on a pizza.
But most of us have been there before:
Sitting across from uncle Larry, who has strong views on everything, and thinks now is the best time to discuss “that mess in Ferguson.”
Or next to younger sister Teri, who majored in Taking Offense: “How DARE you say that about Katy Perry!”
Or down the table from great aunt Carol, who habitually sighs and laments “the way things used to be.”
(And don’t forget your Nephew Spike who likes to make fart noises with his hands at especially delicate moments.)
Whatever your specific family configuration, you may find yourself struggling to keep things pleasant and low-key this Thanksgiving, with less than preferable results.
What can you do?
Well, you could be the one to bring up the controversial subjects first, in an attempt to frame the conversation.
Or you could quietly cry in your napkin and lament another ruined family moment.
Or you could rule with an iron fist — banning any and all CNN or FOX-worthy topics. And fart noises.
You could count your blessings.
Even in the tumult. Even when the turkey hasn’t been cooked enough, and Uncle Larry has had one too many.
Count your blessings and voice them, joyfully. Even if your blessings may be different from Great Aunt Carol’s.
In fact, count Carol as a blessing, too. Count the whole clan.
Maybe they’ll start counting too.
Rarely do these family dinners go off without a hitch, but there’s still time to make Christ the guest of honor.
(Saying Grace is always a good place to start).
Now I know that not every family dinner ends in a food fight,
but for the ones that do, here’s a reminder to help you keep the Thanks in Thanksgiving.
If you think you’re gonna lose your cool:
Count To 10.
And then just keep counting.