Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Finding thanks (or something else)

Tomorrow’s the day. Many Americans are gathering with family and friends to celebrate their collective thanks over a gigantic meal. For some people, that prospect is not so easy, whether that’s due to strained family relationships, clashing personalities, or simply shyness.

You’ve probably read all the tips: avoid talking about religion, politics, or money. Have topics of conversation filed away that you can grab at awkward pauses. Keep people busy with activities. Don’t drink to excess.

But here’s another idea. This year, try compassion. Try empathy. Try love. If your Aunt Hilda drives you nuts, remember that she has problems, too.

If all else fails, listen to John and Yoko.

In 1979, John Lennon and Yoko Ono wrote an open letter published in the New York Times. “When somebody is angry with us, we draw a halo around his or her head in our minds,” they wrote. “Does the person stop being angry then? Well, we don't know! We know, though, that when we draw a halo around a person, suddenly the person starts to look like an angel to us. This helps us feel warm towards the person, reminds us that everyone has goodness inside, and that all people who come to us are angels in disguise, carrying messages and gifts to us from the Universe.”

Too hippyish for you? Maybe, but it’s a lot better than hiding in the hallway every time a certain relative rounds the corner.

There’s another part of that letter that could have been written today: “We are thankful every day for the plentifulness of our life. This is not a euphemism. We understand that we, the city, the country, the earth are facing very hard times, and there is panic in the air. Still the sun is shining and we are here together, and there is love between us, our city, the country, the earth.”

Here’s another little nugget from another musical icon: “What’s so funny ‘bout peace, love and understanding?”

Happy Thanksgiving!

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