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Thanksgiving Day Gone Awry

Freedom from Want by Norman Rockwell (source: UNT Digital Library)

Psychologists and storytellers know that the holidays can be a time of supreme tension for families. Much of it stems from the idealized, Norman Rockwell visions of family perfection.  We have come to associate Thanksgiving with a time that families gather together, with children coming home to mom and dad, often with their own families to meld again into a tribal togetherness, gaining strength and love from the family unit. The fiction holds that it’s all about love and support and sharing, perhaps sharing the stories that define the family in the best possible light. Often the family narratives have survived generations, and become accepted, and almost always leave out the bummers and rivalries and er…issues that were inconvenient, so were left unexamined.

In other words, the fictions that our culture loves to portray about ‘normal’ families are so idealized and unreal that the actual holiday bumps up against Norman Rockwell images in our hearts and psyches, and all hell can break loose. Or later, once the dinner mess is cleaned up, we can feel depressed and dissatisfied. . . .

Now if your family is clear and honest and the members communicate well, solving problems along the way: this diary and the film clip isn’t for you. I’m so happy for you!

But if you’re like most of us, or at least like most of the people I know, please allow the cast of Home for the Holidays show you an alternate version that one great and wonderful and quirky family experienced one Thanksgiving. Lots of accidental comedy is here; lots of human frailty, broken dreams, barely suppressed rage…and lots of love and admiration.

As you prepare your holiday meal, and people gather (or not) together to share a meal and give thanks (or not) for the blessings accorded you, please chuckle once in awhile, and know that even if your day turns a bit sour with unrealized expectations of family harmony and bliss: at least it’s not abnormal, and maybe just a tad healthier than this!

Happy Thanksgiving, peeps. And remember, if you fall asleep after dinner, it wasn’t really the L-tryptophan in the turkey that caused it: it’s avoidance and family aversion!   ;o)

Stay safe, and make it the best day you can… ;o)

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