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Food for Thought

November 22, 2014 4 comments

Tis the season for The Family Holiday Dinner.  And with it come the annual questions.  Who is having it or who is expected to? Who’s bringing what and who gets to decide?

And what are the unspoken “great expectations” when we get together?  Dickens of dilemmas, possibly, as shown in two conversations – one I had just the other day, one a few years ago.

I mentioned to one of my oldest-daughter friends last week that I was thinkingabout writing about the expectations created by holiday dinners.  She immediately said,“You mean like the expectation that, of course, well have the dinner????”

The other comment came from “Susan,” who is not an oldest daughter. She had some image-pricking thoughts that have stayed with me about the same topic:

It’s interesting.  Oldest daughters seem to always have the dinner and then complain about it. Like one of my  friends  whose younger sisters now have their own families. Since she  says she ends up feeling like she’s being “used,” I asked her why she didn’t suggest that someone else host the dinner for a change. But she can’t relinquish it — though I even asked her, ‘How is it helping anybody if you’re feeling resentful?’

In addition to experiencing a few uncomfortable twinges at Susan’s observation (particularly her reference to the inability to relinquish), I also felt compelled to ask a follow-up question.  It’s one I know a lot of oldest daughters would be interested in: But what if nobody steps up and offers to have the dinner?  My non-oldest friend’s response reflected more realism than idealism. “Then you say, I guess we won’t have a family dinner for everybody this year.”

Now that’s talking turkey.  (Sorry, couldn’t help myself.) Because the reality is, if it’s important for families to come together, a way will be found.   Maybe it won’t be a dinner the way Grandma always had it. Perhaps it will be a potluck of each family’s favorite dishes or just pumpkin pie and coffee.  Maybe it’ll take place each year or every other year in rotating homes.

Whatever — as this season of holiday dinners is getting underway, it’s worth remembering that it’s not about what’s on the table, but whose feet are under it.  And that the two most important guests, wherever that table is found, are gratitude and love.

Happy Thanksgiving.

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