Wednesday, November 23, 2022


Sometimes the worst dinnertime disaster at Thanksgiving has nothing to do with the turkey – it’s the family. Does your family Thanksgiving look like a Norman Rockwell painting or a Jerry Springer grudge match with flying metal folding chairs? I’ll never forget the year that we were trying to logistically plan things out for Thanksgiving dinner with our own family. 

For a few years, we had it at the home of a person who didn’t cook and he ordered the dinner from a restaurant. Kind of like an upscale Turkey Box Lunch. But that year he had a new girlfriend who wanted Thanksgiving at her house. She lived in a small house with a huge undisciplined dog and her own tradition was to invite eleven of her closest relatives and friends. Even though she was engaged to this member of our immediate family, we still didn’t make the cut and were not invited. Then the family matriarch intervened and her son’s fiancée extended a reluctant, last-minute invitation to us, but we were told that because the house was too small, we’d have to sit outside on a small patch of grass and dirt next to the dog house.

The second-tier guests like us were going to be confined in the tiny back yard with the 120 pound dog and I didn’t want to be wrestling with a Rottweiler over a turkey leg, so I was hoping that maybe we could just park in their driveway and they would serve us a Turkey Box Lunch in the car. At this point in the Thanksgiving planning, the family tension increased and so we rebelliously did something that we had never done before. 

We drove to Carpinteria and bought two turkey Subway Sandwiches. The sun-warmed beach was devoid of people and it was like being on a deserted island. It was Thanksgiving in paradise! We sat in the shade of palm trees, enjoyed the fresh ocean breeze, ate our turkey sandwiches and the pumpkin scones I had made for dessert. It was the most wonderful and meaningful Thanksgiving day that we’ve ever had!

(I’m obviously going to encourage you to spend Thanksgiving with your family, but I did get some Subway coupons in my mailbox last week and if we don’t use them this year, just let me know if you’d like to have them.)

Family is important to us and God made us that way. We were created to be in relationship with those who God has given to us and to whom we have been given. We were created to live in a family relationship, but today’s families face a minefield of trigger topics where even the mildest remark about the weather can unleash a diatribe on climate change or a niece’s newborn baby boy can trigger a heated discussion about the child’s right to choose its own gender. And don’t even think about saying the word, “Trump!”

A segment of our culture has called for the elimination of Thanksgiving because of its “environmental impact on climate change” and an MSNBC host described the day as a “problematic food holiday.” The celebrated entrée – a turkey – is now, according to progressive activists, a white supremacist symbol of racist, colonialism. An editorial in today's LA Times reminds us that Thanksgiving "commemorates" the genocide of the indigenous people and is not a day of celebration but a day of mourning. 

Many in our Nation have been indoctrinated to hate any person who does not conform to their political doctrine, but the media’s agenda to sustain our rage does not have to provide the context for our Thanksgiving family dinner. This is a season of thanksgiving! Time for us to thank God for the grace He has so lovingly given to us. Time to let that grace flow through us to others in our circle of family and friends. Time to see other people not through our own eyes but through God’s eyes. Thanksgiving should be a time of warmth, harmony and peace with family and friends, but in a fractious family, how do we do that?

If conversations turn political, simply don’t engage – just listen without replying. But what if we’ve chosen to not engage and another person becomes verbally combative: “So why don’t you hate Trump/Biden/DeSantis/Musk?” The best response may be a mild, “That’s not a conversation to have while we’re enjoying this day together, maybe we can talk about it later.” And if you’ve been mocked or belittled for your Christian beliefs and values, “turn the other cheek” and extend the grace to forgive, remembering that a good definition of forgiveness is “Simply no longer holding against a person what deserves to be held against them.” 

While we cannot control the behavior of others, we can control our own. On Thanksgiving day and everyday, we are responsible for what comes from our own mouth. “The tongue has the power of life and death” Proverbs 18:21 meaning that our words can either speak life, or our words can speak death. As Christians, our words are to strengthen, encourage and comfort others. 1 Corinthians 14:3 NLT The words from our lips, pour out of our heart and form the image of how others see us. A friend once told me about a message she had seen on a church sign: “If the words you spoke were written on your skin, would you still be beautiful?” This Thanksgiving, let’s make sure that our own words are kind and filled with the grace of God. “Kind words are like honey.. sweet to the soul and healthy for the body.” Proverbs 16:24-26 NLT   Amen?

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