I have a list of things left to do: make the sausage bites, roast the beets, sauteé the shallots for the greens, move the kitchen table into the dining room, put in the dining room table leaf, set the table. The last line of my To-Do list is a reminder to put a POLITICS FREE ZONE! sign up on the front door. My mother is bringing guests whom we don’t know, otherwise, we wouldn’t bother. My family never, ever talks about politics.
I’ve always assumed that’s because we all believed alike. And, having said that, I have a friend whose parents proudly voted for the reality-TV candidate this year, and they were a bit caught off guard when all was said and done. I don’t envy them their dinnertime discussions this holiday.
When we don’t talk about our realities, when we assume a great deal, in families, we end up… surprised. I think my parents had a great many assumptions about me, growing up. None of who they thought I was is who I turned out to be. So, maybe I shouldn’t make assumptions.
And, maybe I should… take that sign off the door.
This year, I thought my biggest job would be trying to make things… normal. I know we’re very much NOT in normal times, but my mind was in making things as smooth and lovely as possible, because everything has been – and continues to be, round the clock, people – so. very. awful. Bake more pies! Make more pasta! Buy nicer napkin rings! Trowel that spackle on! Paper over the cracks!
…but, that’s not going to work, either in my family, nor in the national conversation. So, maybe this year, instead of standing at the head of the table and asking everyone what they’re thankful for, I should ask them what they’re going to do to pass the blessing on. No, we don’t “earn” our blessings, and grace is favor unmerited, but we’re not worth the carbon we’re made of, if we’re not passing them on.
Gratitude is a political act. And, I’m grateful to be able to use my hands and my heart to spread my privilege around.