Every Thanksgiving, as the turkey sizzles and browns in the oven and that savory smell begins to fill the house, I am reminded of the Thanksgivings of my childhood.
We typically spent the day at my paternal grandparents’ house. My grandfather was the cook, an apron tied around his wide girth, apple, pumpkin and mincemeat pies cooling on the laminate, gravy bubbling in the roasting pan.
In the “front room,” where the dining table was positioned under the back window, I set out the silver and china with Nana, straightening the pilgrim figurines and lighting the candles that flanked the floral cornucopia.
I have fond memories of those Thanksgiving gatherings. But I also recall that sometimes, after we’d scraped the last bit of pie and cool whip from our dessert plates and pushed back our chairs from the table, my father and his father would argue.
It was generally harmless — argument is an accepted mode of dialogue for we DeRushas — but occasionally the tone would shift and the debate would grow more serious, particularly when the topic of conversation was politics. I remember more than one tense conversation as dusk fell and the shadows lengthened and the last sips of coffee cooled in the bottoms of my parents’ and grandparents’ china teacups.
This week, as we gather with our familes and friends to celebrate Thanksgiving, I can’t help but remember some of those heated conversations from years ago. I think about the agitated, tumultuous state of our country, and I am afraid of how that unrest might play out in dining rooms, kitchens and living rooms across America.
Tensions are running high. We will undoubtedly pass the cranberry sauce to someone who voted differently from us, the basket of rolls to someone who disagrees with our political leanings, the stuffing to someone who feels pretty bent out of shape about the state of America right now (and maybe that person is you).
As we preheat our ovens and roll out our pie crusts, we’d all do well to dust off our Lamaze and perhaps recite the serenity prayer a few (hundred) times.
This Thanksgiving more than any in recent memory seems to be a time that calls for prayer. In light of that, I offer these words to you and your loved ones as you come to the table together this year:
We are feeling weary, fragile, a little bit like we’re walking on egg shells.
We are afraid of saying the wrong thing or not saying anything, of saying too little or saying too much.
We are feeling like there is a lot at stake.
May you guide us toward peace and harmony as we come to the table with our loved ones.
May you open our eyes to the small gifts offered by each person in our midst and fill our hearts with gratitude and joy.
May you help us see beauty and goodness — the image of You — even in those with whom we disagree.
Help us be listeners.
Help us be open.
Help us be kind and compassionate.
Help us be love.