The picture you see here is one of the best times of my childhood. It isn't a particularly stunning photo. Just a blurry polaroid taken from the front door of my Grandmother's house on Thanksgiving. And given it was Polaroid, or, a picture at all, it was taken by my Uncle Don. We found boxes of these in his house after he passed away. And this is one of my favorites. This is Thanksgiving, 1981. The only reason I am sure of the year is because I can see my Aunt Barbara holding my cousin John in the background. To you that would be the blurry white arm on the righthand side. My best buddy, my cousin Ryan is in the foreground with his arm over his mouth, at the kids table. I am probably sitting next to him, next to the lady with her fork in the air, my mother. We are all talking and gorging on turkey from our TV trays in the living room in front of the tv. The Cowboys were probably playing and my Grandmother was probably yelling at the quarterback from the kitchen. This was Thanksgiving, and it was happy. I was just 5 then, blissfully unaware of any of the family dynamics going on in the house other than my cousins at the kids table. Not that the dynamics were particularly bad, but I'm sure there were at the least, discomforts. Just like any family, we had a couple of oddballs. Ones that didn't particularly fit, but were accepted anyway. Our family was pretty good about that. But it's not always as easy as they made it look, from a kid's perspective.
We all have those in our family that frustrate us, that make decisions we question or that we do our best to avoid. I get it, I do. But this year, I am going to present a challenge to you. Step back and appreciate the uniqueness that is your family. Look at their life from their point of view a little bit. Everyone's actions, health and habits are a reflection of their life and their experiences from it. What is their story? Chances are, they aren't the way they are just because. Did they have a tragedy in their life that shaped them? Are they living with some sort of burden or shame that causes them to be reactive? Shifting our perspective of how we view others can help us to remain more objective when we deal with people, whether they are family or not. Looking at others more objectively can create a space for compassion and allow us to lower our guard when it isn't warranted. And you never know, that uncle that talks to himself all the time may have things in common with you that you didn't even know. So, give it a shot and experiment a little. Talk to your family weirdo this Thanksgiving. You just might find out they aren't so weird after all.