This Thanksgiving, celebrate the things you share
I have never been one of those people who dreads seeing their relatives on the holidays. I mean, I get that those people are out there, and I get why. We’ve all seen a Christmas special set around a kitchen table. We’ve all read one of those cutesy pieces on “How to Survive Dinner with Your Relatives,” as if having to see family is some sort of death sport as opposed to say, an event whose central element is mashed potatoes.
“I don’t get how you’re so calm about this,” a girlfriend told me earlier this week. “I’m already angry at my uncle and I haven’t even seen him yet.”
And girl, I feel you. Because the secret to my holiday happiness is not that I don’t have any crazy family members.
My family tree has Grand Ma Jean, whose idea of Sunday brunch involves beer-battered wings and whiskey on the rocks. My family tree has Uncle Brian, who is a member of the American Birding Association and the Thanksgiving I was 16 compared my sunny disposition to the Turdus migratorius—American robin—which gave my cousin Seth carte blanche to refer to me as “Turdus” for the next three years.
Hell, my family tree has Stephanie, who once called Che Guevara her “soul twin” and a year ago this week almost burned my parents’ house down. We all have crazy family members. We all know someone who voted for the other candidate, or likes the other singer, or thinks their sister’s dread locks don’t work with her bone structure. We all have differences. How do you bridge those differences?
It’s really that simple. If a touchy topic comes up, laugh and pivot to something you all know and love. Like turkey, or alcohol, or ABBA—I have really weird parents—or the Downtown Denver Grand Illumination that we’re all going to pile into a Metro Taxi Denver cab to go see.
Look, I don’t love Grand Ma Jean because she shares my belief that no UFO landed in Roswell, New Mexico in 1947 (she does not share that belief). I don’t love her because we share every single same value. I love her because she bakes me terrible cookies filled with love and shows up at my apartment carrying a bottle of gin if she knows I’m sick. I love her because she once threatened my 12th-grade chemistry teacher with a lead pipe after I failed a major science project. I love her because she is my grandmother. And any differences, with her or anyone else, can be paved over by that love.
Except with Uncle John. Uncle John is an Oakland Raiders fan. He’s dead to us.
Until next week…
Michelle writes weekly about goings-on in Denver. Michelle is all of us. Or none of us. It’s complicated.