Gobble Gobble
By Resna Marie Brunson, MSC

For many years I would be one of the first to order a fresh turkey for the holidays. My local farmer’s market begins taking orders in October for both Thanksgiving and Christmas. At both Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner I would present the turkey as a work of art with all of its complimentary sides and dishes. I was proud of thinking ahead and for putting such  time and effort into making my holiday table resemble the cover of a  gourmet or bon appetit magazine. My family seemed to have enjoyed the fruit of my labor. However, after many years of presenting my masterpiece,  they revealed their dislike for turkey. In my excitement to have a memorable holiday dinner, I missed my family’s non verbal clues. Holiday decorations, parades, movies and songs, can drown the sounds of those who do not feel as joyous. Thus, many feel they are not seen or heard. How can we be more sensitive to those experiencing sadness and apathy during this season? 

Ask questions instead of making assumptions. Most are passionate about the things that bring them pleasure. It is sometimes difficult to believe and even accept that others do not feel the same as we do.  There are various reasons for a lack of euphoria for the holidays ( religion, family of origin beliefs, finances, personal convictions). Being curious about someone’s view about this season demonstrates more sensitivity than extending an invitation to your family’s holiday gathering. 

Do not try to “fix people.” Most of us have “good intentions.” When we see someone sad we want to do something to make them feel better. Sometimes sitting with someone in their grief and sorrow is what is needed in that moment. For many, this is an unpleasant place. We feel we need to do something, say something, give the person something. How can my presence alone be helpful? Being comfortable with what is uncomfortable is difficult for most because of how it makes us feel. Practicing being more person centered will help us be more attentive and better able to see and hear another person’s feelings/thoughts/emotions.

Be slow to speak and quick to hear. The Bible reminds us of this in James 1:19. Hearing is not only done with our ears. Listening with all our senses helps us to get a total picture. Integrating what we see and listening to how we feel only adds to our hearing. My desire to have a memorable Thanksgiving dinner each year  was in part motivated by my yearning  to recapture my childhood holiday memories. I  was not  “quick to hear” my family’s words not spoken. 

Perhaps thoughts of the holiday season make you want to run and hibernate.  Perhaps there are not many things now in your life  you feel are worthy of giving thanks. Perhaps you are exhausted from pretending to be excited about this time of year. Having someone to walk alongside you and help you process these array of emotions may be helpful. 

Ready to take the next step?

Resna Marie Brunson, MSC

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