The Family Dance

Group gatherings run most smoothly when there is a fine balance between self-expression and observant adjustment. When the balance is attained, people tend not to be really aware that it is happening. On the other hand, disturbances in the balance are very apparent. That’s human nature — the negative tends to be more salient than the positive.

So looking back at Thanksgiving, it’s easier, perhaps, to remember when someone talked too loudly or complained or insisted on doing things his/her way or disappeared into the background or snapped at someone else, even though most of the time was characterized by interesting stories, thoughtful gestures, people taking care of each other, and shared pleasure in food, bridge, and conversation.

Sometimes positive experience is like the silent majority in politics. It seems to get lost in the noise made by the moments of tension and stress. But it is still the majority. So I figure now is a good time for me to exercise the discipline of gratitude, to become more mindful of the positive, and to appreciate how much we depend on each other for it.  I am grateful to those who like to cook for all the wonderful tastes, to those who tell stories for all the moments of interest and humor and reliving past shared experience, to those who clean up for order and cleanliness, to those who see a need for the ease they gave others, to all for the respect, interest, and appreciation they gave each other.

Here’s one example: My son had promised to take my niece shopping the day after Thanksgiving, but had no transportation. So my husband took them both to two shopping centers, sitting in the car with a book while they shopped. My niece was the only one who wanted to shop on Black Friday, but my son and husband made it possible for her to go and enjoy herself.  Thanksgiving was her birthday, so we all chipped in to the shopping funds.

My husband and I like ballroom dancing.  There are moments in dancing where two people move together in perfect balance, even though each would fall over without the other.  That’s what happened at Thanksgiving only with 9 of us together.


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