If you spend any time giving thanks with other people this week, you’re going to run into a lot of things that make you feel less than thankful.
For instance, you create this fabulous dinner and then all the small children in the room ask if they can have chicken nuggets.
Or maybe one member of the family gets a little mouthy after she leans into the wine.
Or perhaps you feel the need to strangle all the people sitting on the couch who haven’t yet asked if there’s anything they can do to help.
Your mother complains the turkey’s a bit dry.
Your husband has disappeared in the garage.
Your kids won’t get off their cellphones.
You get my point, right?
Holiday let down.
People are such fallible, self-centered creatures, they can’t help but disappoint us.
Maybe it’s not someone in our radius who’s laying on this blanket of disappointment, but someone who is far away. Like a spouse who decided the marriage wasn’t working. Or the parent who was supposed to live long enough to see his grandchildren grow.
We can spend our lives looking at all the ways people aren’t measuring up to our expectations. Within the first five minutes of counting we’ll run out of fingers and toes.
So how do we approach a season of festivities meant to test our skills of kindness and gratitude?
How about we take a good long look at ourselves.
When someone offends me or lets me down, I look straight into my own heart. It’s in that deep inner core that I am reminded I also have the ability to offend. Without even knowing it, I’ll ignore a text. Or cut someone short when they want to go long. Or prefer my own plans over the ones they were making.
I do it to my family, I do it to my friends, and I do it to total strangers.
When someone lets us down in one way or another, we can reroute that negativity through the bridge of compassion that says, Me too.
We can silently remember the ridiculousness of attempting perfection and instead give grace.
We can say to each other (silently — or out loud if we’re very brave) I’m going to mess up and so are you. Maybe this time it’s your turn to disappoint someone. Stick around because I’ll be next. Now let’s go enjoy that turkey and give thanks for the chance to try again tomorrow.