“Your mom is rare,” said a colleague after listening to me explain my Mother’s view of Thanksgiving traditions.
For the past 20+ years, Mom would host anywhere from 25-40 folks for Thanksgiving Day dinner. Dad’s side of the family would convene to skeet shoot before dinner, while the rest arrived early to help set up or stayed late to clean up.
It was always a potluck, with Mom roasting a turkey and a ham, everyone else bringing their favorite side dishes – from creamed corn to cauliflower salad to pumpkin squares.
More important than the massive culinary feast, were the multiple conversations we’d have throughout the day amid the background sounds of televised football games and young cousins playing excitedly together.
Since we’ve not gathered for two years due to COVID, I was eager to see everyone. When Mom extended the invitation, I was sure my relatives would be as keen as I to resume our longstanding traditions.
Not so much.
Cousin Sherry let us know that her son, Michael, had so enjoyed hosting Thanksgiving in their shared COVID bubble, that he’d be at it again this year.
Lindsay let us know that she’d only be hosting immediate family members this year.
Since we don’t live near one another, Thanksgiving was the opportunity to catch up on our lives. Plus, we’d always had great laughs as the board games came out. The stories growing bigger as the homemade Kahlua flowed.
I felt irritated, left out somehow. I expressed my disappointment to my Mom.
Mom, in her inimitable way, waxed on a bit about how, “Change is constant. I think it’s a good thing to mix it all up – we’ll do it differently this year.”
I admired her upbeat attitude and her open approach, quite in contrast to my experience, and frankly, my mood.
Focusing and fussing on my disappointment only fueled negative stories – “What, are we chopped liver?!” and “Don’t they miss us?” – and made me feel moody and irritable.
Plus, it reinforced a story about the importance of tried-and-true family traditions being better somehow than the one we were about to celebrate – Thanksgiving 2022.
To confess, I continued to wallow around in my disappointment for a bit longer, yet, I knew Mom was right. And rare too, as my colleague noted.
Change is the constant in life – for all of us.
Change is hard. It’s easy to find ourselves caught up fighting the inevitable reality of change because we don’t want to feel disappointed or unwanted and left out or lonely.
At least that was my experience.
Instead of returning to our tried-and-true family tradition, and feeling snarky about it, I could choose to drop my story-line about ‘Thanksgiving family traditions’ and be open to this Thanksgiving.
After arguing with myself for longer than I’d care to admit, I did just that. I chose to be open to a new and different Thanksgiving. A way of celebrating change in all its beauty. And I’m glad I did.
Thanksgiving was cozy and relaxed, full of quiet joy. And, I didn’t miss the cauliflower salad after all.
How are you working with change? Do you relate to my story? I’d love to hear from you.
I challenge and support leaders to sharpen their focus, grow their resilience & improve their energy for exemplary results.
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