These last two years have been an odd emotional starvation. We’ve missed our people. And as we miss them, we’ve been trained to be a little afraid of them too. We’re bracing ourselves for arguments about vaccines or politics. We’re worried about the random jab or the pop quiz.
While we need each other, we are learning how to be with one another again.
Most Thanksgivings, I’ve shared an annual message that sees you—the you that works so hard to make the world better through the energy and sincere efforts you make. You can read it again here.
Today, though, I have a different message. Keep reading.
Let the rope go slack
In the last two years, not a single person on the planet escaped the traumatic impact of the pandemic.
Unlike a car accident, where you can draw support from your friend who was not in the accident with you, the pandemic was global. There’s nowhere to turn for support from a person not impacted.
The re-entry into “life as usual” feels tinny—off, not quite right—because there’s no one to show us the way.
Trauma—of a global scale.
To combat the feelings of being out of control and vulnerable, we arm ourselves with plans. We prepare a feast and decorate the table and invite our loved ones in. Or we pack up the goodies and make the journey to see the people we love who we haven’t hugged in a while.
We go into the season doubling down on happy—willing it into being by our sheer force of will.
We expect a return to normal—to find it’s vanished.
Someone is rude.
Someone has a strong opinion and imposes it.
Reticence to hug or defiance in the face of the reticence send new signals—lines drawn about who is safe and who isn’t and what that means about their politics, loyalty, and spirituality.
Preparation can’t save us. The carefully planned holiday, the soldiering on now papers over the new reality.
We can’t escape that we are vulnerable and life is fragile and we don’t know the way on.
To each of you holding space for the memory of a carefree holiday, I honor you.
Each dish you prepare, each candle you light is a faith-based affirmation that we have come through the worst and can find our footing again.
When the inevitable effects of trauma sweep their way into your space—the careless word, the overbearing opinion, the debate about safety—it’s okay to feel it.
- And then, we can serve pie.
- We can play with the babies.
- We can look through a window at the fallen leaves and a bright red cardinal on a tree.
- We can take long, slow breaths, grateful we can rely on our lungs once again.
We can yield to whatever this holiday is as one step back on the path to our formerly taken-for-granted lives.
We can let the rope go slack.
Thank you for wanting a good life for and with your family.
This Thanksgiving, that’s enough.
It may be realized this year, it may be the next. No matter what, we’re back on the path together—all of us—in every corner of planet Earth, looking for happiness and connection and peace.
You are not alone. We’ll find it together one day at a time.