Thanksgiving bolstered me, not only with succulent fowl, but with family. My husband and I visited his folks in Pocatello, Idaho, and we had a fantastic time. The reason this is of note is everyone’s been edgy around holiday communiqué because we just elected the most contentious candidate of our lifetime. (Sure, I trick or treated at Nixon’s house, so there’s him, of course. And to satisfy your curiosity — Nixon handed out gold pens emblazoned with his name and autographs, which I quickly smeared with my finger checking for authenticity.)
When a group of both liberal and conservative people can get together and peacefully enjoy each other, we’re in good shape. I was concerned I would be crapping out not pushing my own agenda or something, but being real and authentic is also about being with the people you love and getting along.
And get along we did. The kids were adorable, as always. The one teen hung with the adults the whole time and scoffed that we didn’t already know to Google anything to which we might have a question. The little ones were sweet and affectionate and the 6-year-old kept cracking me up with his comedic timing and card tricks.
We climbed out past Brent’s parents’ fence, trekked through muddy spots and sage brush, and took family photos out in the wild field, as we haven’t before, yellow grasses swaying and mountains in the background. I want to use that as a metaphor for what we did for each other — venturing out past where we are usually comfortable — but I realized we were doing what we do: focusing on the time we have together.
Others haven’t been so lucky, though. A lot of families, from what I’ve heard (from mostly strangers), haven’t been willing to climb out past their fences. They’ve stayed firmly stuck, and have even built their fences higher, telling their daughters and sons who are in same sex-marriages not to attend the holidays, or to take the Clinton sticker off their car or don’t visit at all lest the neighbors think lower of the parents. Sad, fearful.
Choosing to draw stronger lines around their differences, these people are ensuring they incur more loss. It’s likely, being that stuffing down sadness means anger isn’t far behind, they’ll use that loss as an excuse to hate anything that doesn’t fit within the confines of their narrow psychological property. And all they’ll get is more loss. Choosing to care what a neighbor thinks over caring for a person you birthed seems woefully counter-intuitive. But I guess that’s what you get when you take pride in ignorance.
I feel so fortunate to have family that loves me and that I love right back. Whose natural state of being is to climb out with me and smile and put our faces into the wind and share. And put up with my strong opinions (which I kept to a minimum, because we’re all coming from a place of wanting more love for everyone). Luckily we all choose love.
Jenn Sutkowski is more ham than turkey. Find her pigging out and fowling up at jennsutkowski.com. (This byline is here because this Full Frontal column first appeared in the Newport Mercury.)
As above, so below. (Just as in, like, here I am reading what you just read.)
Oh, also, of course as I'm getting myself to the computer to post this and send out a newsletter with such heartfelt sentiment my husband is regaling me with a barrage of why he dislikes Christmas. Like, a lot. So, ebbs and flows, my friend. Ebbs and flows.
Feel bolstered this holiday season? Have a lovable humbug in your life? When life gives you humbugs, make humbug hamburger helper! Or something...
It's me, Jennifer Bernice (rhymes with "Furnace": it was my Granny's name) Sutkowski
• More details about my writing here.