Yesterday we spent Thanksgiving with my parents for the first time in a couple of years. Just a year ago, we spent a lot of time deliberately processing through a lot of emotional shit. Painful, face-to-face, venting, explaining, apologizing, reconciling, sharing responsibility… and finally, commitment: not to let our relationships disintegrate to that point, again. We said out loud (something to the effect of…) "I know we're going to hurt each other again, and some of us are going to get offended, and we're going to misspeak and misunderstand and disappoint each other…" (all of this, in fragments spoken by different people) "but we are going to remind ourselves, and each other, to believe in the better intentions of each of us. We're going to fight the urge to presume the worst. We're going to choose to love each other for who we are, not for the way we wish they were." And there were lots of tears, and after a few weeks of that, we drove to the Portland Grotto to look at the Christmas lights (www.thegrotto.org/christmas), and we all felt lighter and closer than we had in a long time.
|The Grotto Lights|
These feelings don't undercut my ideological struggle with the history and meaning of Thanksgiving. Some of my friends have been frustrated with observations I made here and on Facebook. I get that. It's easy to be an armchair ref (or judge) in the blogosphere. But I'm not speaking from some dualistic vantage in this area, ignoring one perspective on the holiday - and on this country - while I feed the other perspective. Life is complicated, just like family. We love and mourn at the same time. Morality is complicated too. We do our best, day-to-day, while people suffer, and we hope to make the world better in our spheres of influence, but we prioritize the people in front of us, and there's always more we could have done. It's a cruel reality, but somehow, life can be lovely. Maybe that's where dualism is unavoidable.