With a title like that you know I’m talking about Thanksgiving.
I have a big Southern family. My amazing grandmother is still our matriarch at the age of 96. She’s has 4 children, 8 grandchildren (of which I’m the oldest and only girl, can we say spoiled?), 12 great-grandchildren and 1 great-great grandson. This doesn’t count spouses, ex-spouses, potential spouses, no longer a spouse contender but still come around and other extras that make up our family.
This year for Thanksgiving we had twenty-eight people. I roasted a twenty-two pound turkey. One aunt cooked a whole filet and one of her sons smoked a pork butt. We barely had enough leftovers for my Leftover Turkey and Wild Rice Soup that I crave as soon as the bird comes out of the oven.
Unlike past carnivorous Thanksgivings when our only veggie side was my mom’s broccoli salad to go with the five different meats, we had plenty of veggies as well. There were at least seven veggie sides plus the requisite carbs (potatoes, rolls, mac n cheese) not to mention the pre-meal munchies of deviled eggs, a smoked cheese ball and cranberry spread.
You are getting the picture of what my grandmother’s house looked like last Thursday. Twenty-eight people from ages one and a half to ninety-six. A counter crammed with food plus desserts up on the buffet. So there’s the family and the food, how about that fighting?
There was none. Not one argument, no heated debates. Sure, a little irritated grumbling under the breath occasionally but nothing hateful, ugly or even mildly contentious.
Why? You may have stopped at ‘Southern’ up above and concluded we are all a bunch of dumb rednecks that rolled up in our trucks with our favorite bait shop bumper stickers on the back. Not even close.
We are a family divided. Divided by location: 6 states represented from New York to Texas. Divided by politics: slightly over half of the voting age are Republican. Divide by vaccine status: about two-thirds adults vaccinated and the rest too young to be sure. Of all those folks, we’ve got some who refuse to wear a mask at all, some who wear them everywhere, and most that wear them where required.
All the numbers are somewhat of a guess on my part, based on direct conversations, indirect family gossip and social media comments.
How did we keep the peace on T-day? Respect.
First, respect for our 96 year old matriarch. At the end of every Thanksgiving she loves to say, “And I didn’t hear a word of fighting.” None of us want to break that chain.
Next is respect for each other. We are a fairly educated bunch. All of the adult crowd has some college, most have a degree and four have Masters, including the ninety-six year old! We respect that even if we think differently from each other, we’ve probably put a bit of thought into our views. We acknowledge we live in very different environments, from dense New York City to a rural 50+ acre farm and lots of suburbs in between. This plus varying work situations create very different concerns.
We respect that there is a time and place for these types of conversations, and Nanny’s house on Thanksgiving is NOT it! It’s not that we don’t talk, debate or even argue about it, we just know when it’s not appropriate to do so.
We also know how to behave like reasonable human beings and put aside our differences for each other. We’d rather be together than not.
I wish we could put respect in a needle and inject that into our nation. Could we get this in time for the Holidays?