and the Holiday Hooplah begins

I have this little game I like to play with my children where we point out the 1st negative thing we notice about someone and then we point out the 1st positive thing. The negative always comes first so we can hurry up and get past it and the positive comes last so we can leave it all on a positive note. This may sound like a ridiculous thing to do, but what I’ve found it that it enables us to see more than what is initially obvious. It forces us to recognize more in a person. If we lean toward jealousy or envy for any reason, we are challenged to look for the negative –  for balance. If we lean toward judgment or insult, we are challenged to look for the positive – for balance. I tell you this to clarify that although there are negatives at the onset of this little Holiday tale, it will end on a positive note.

For me, and probably most, Halloween has long been the kick-off to the cold winter months and the holiday season – October; Thanksgiving – November, Christmas – December, New Years – January, St. Valentines Day – February, St. Patrick’s Day – March, Easter – April and then Spring arrives.

Halloween…well, now that we’re all grown up is a waste of time and money to me. I’m not really for celebrating a holiday that celebrates the dead and I’ve never understood offering candy to strange begging children while my children went out begging? Thanksgiving however is a lovely concept. We come together in appreciation of the blessings we have received and we break bread together in honor of family and community.

Except, when it is a chore and not a celebration. Except when it is a parade of accomplishments instead of a recognition of blessings. Except when it is filled with complaint issuing instead of thanks giving.

This Thanksgiving was rough. As noted above, let’s start with the bad and then move to the good so that in the end there is balance and the aftertaste is sweet, not sour. the theme of the season was not one of thanks, but one of judgment. Yuck! As a mother, having my sons with me at Thanksgiving is a blessing. I want to shower them with gratitude for making time to be with me. I want to feed them – because I’m so grateful to the Lord that I am able to. I want to laugh with them and remember holidays past. I want them to be smothered by the fact that I am thankful for them. Apparently, my immediate family does not share that vision. I felt smothered by criticism and insult.  Did I say yuck? On the positive side, food was great, family was alive, happy, healthy and well, the weather was superb and the wine was divine.

What I learned this year is that as an adult, there is a  difference between relatives and family. Like instant mashed potatoes and real mashed potatoes. Looks the same… but is NOT the same! Among my relatives, I am the daughter, sister, cousin, niece, grand-daughter. In my family, I am the matriarch. The mother.  My family doesn’t look for faults in each other, instead we look for reasons to laugh together. We openly admit our mistakes with humor and humility and encourage each other toward better choices. We get together, grateful that we can. Not for fancy clothes, or table settings, or extended guest lists or articulate prayers – but for thanks… and love!  I love my relatives. They have good hearts and good intentions. They are gentle and helpful and I am certain that there is love between us. However, in the years to come instead of making effort to appease the requests of my relatives – It is my earnest desire to be in the company of  my family.

and then Christmas.

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