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For What it’s Worth: Getting along with family, post election
November 25, 2016 Fr. Mark Selvey   

Read more by Fr. Mark Selvey
So…I think it’s going to be a pretty interesting Thanksgiving at our house this year. Like every family, we have lots of stuff we agree on, and I suppose we do think pretty much alike and vote pretty much alike most years. But, like every family, there is no uniform or unified set of opinions. Like every family, there are one or two folks who we love to death but disagree with like crazy on many issues. And Thanksgiving is just one of those holidays — maybe the holiday where it happens most clearly — when lots of relatives from lots of different places and with lots of different life experiences will be in the same place at the same time for a shared meal. Which, in a good year, can be problematic, but this year seems especially risky.

Now to make it even more interesting, in most families, along with the turkey and the stuffing and the cranberries and the pie, there will be an adult beverage or two. Isn’t it funny that it’s usually the person who is least fun to be around when they’re sober, is exactly the one who has one cocktail too many at Thanksgiving and starts to spout off? Everything is going well and everybody is catching up on how Aunt Mary is doing after her surgery and what cousin Jeffery is studying in college and did you know about Bill and Sandra’s trip — but then the conversation turns to the world and the country and religion, and, you know, politics.

It happens almost every year in almost every family, and this year is no different — except it is.

This year the politics has been unlike any year I can remember, and folks got more enthusiastic and more energetic and more worked up and more angry and more disappointed and more elated than I can remember.

This year it got kinda nasty.

And what I want my family to know, and my church family to know and what I want to say here is that I hope we will hold our opinions lightly this Thanksgiving Day. Remember that we are all family. There is so much that binds us together and so little, really, that should divide us. I am really worried about people right now, and if I had one piece of friendly advice for families this Thanksgiving, it would be to lighten up and listen. Speak up, but in love.

In my business, they always say “Preacher, nobody ever got saved after ten minutes.” In other words, say what you need to say and sit down. Well, I want to remind everyone that at family gatherings this year, and especially this week, nobody is ever going to be converted or convinced by anger and shouting, no matter how loud and obnioxious it gets. That’s only going to lead to hard feelings — especially on a day meant to be one for reconnecting and sharing laughter and remembering that we are family.

So, I say, if you’re going to have a fun and safe and loving Thanksgiving this year, try this: Sit down. Settle down. Calm down. And listen up. Focus on what holds us together and not on what pushes us. It’s been a long, hard political season. One team won. One team lost. No worries. Not this week. Give yourself a break. Give your loved ones a glimpse of your better self.

And if you’re really feeling crazy, when you say that prayer of thanks before you dig in, throw in a little something about those with whom you strongly disagree, but with whom you share this life. And this community. And this country. We really are all one family. We can act like it for a day at least.

Now, would someone please pass the turkey?
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