Wednesday, November 25, 2015

What Not to Talk About at Thanksgiving

It’s going to happen. 

They will will be brought up. 



And this year, in light of current events, the two seem more connected than when we set the table this time last year. 

While many suggest bypassing the twin topics in favor of attempts to recapture the Norman Rockwell portrait of a family at Thanksgiving, avoidance of controversial matters rarely results in harmony.  Avoidance certainly will not lead to progress and resolution. 

So talk about it. Talk about Syria. Talk about #BlackLivesMatter. Talk about Paris, Baghdad, Beirut, Nigeria, and Mali. Talk about the real threats of terrorism.  Talk about religious extremism- and include Christianity in the discussion.  Talk about presidential candidates. Talk about refugees. Talk about the violence plaguing our nation and world around us. Talk about religion. Talk about politics.

Talk about family. Talk about Advent and Christmas. Talk about the time you burned the turkey and had to order out. Talk about gratitude and grace. 

And if the conversation turns ugly, talk about forgiveness. 

But don’t talk about absolutes. Don’t talk about certainty. Don’t talk about your convictions without leaving room for your family member, who is about to hand you the sweet potatoes, being given equal space to be heard. Don’t talk about the one who just passed the stuffing in a way that minimizes, ostracizes, and alienates their perspective.

No matter how wrong they may (seem) to be.

After all, polarization and dismissal rarely (if ever) move any conversation forward or change anyone's mind. 

So this Thanksgiving, talk about the awkward and uncomfortable.  Talk about the pertinent issues of the day.  They’re on all of our minds. But talk about these matters in a way that models grace and peace. And be thankful you can gather around a table and truly talk. Many cannot.  Many will not. 

This may be a good place to begin your Thanksgiving prayer. 

Then talk about how, in the year ahead, we can find common ground as we love our neighbors as ourselves.  No matter how near or far they may be. 

But don’t talk about avoidance.  The brokenness of our world needs more people willing to work through disagreements and move the conversation forward. 

And in these moments, we can all be truly grateful. 

A Great Placemat from