Let’s talk about Syria … and other topics to not bring up on Thanksgiving.

Flag-map_of_Syria.svgSo … the obligatory Thanksgiving post.

I was listening to NPR yesterday as I roasted Brussels sprouts and prosciutto in the oven and reduced a pan of balsamic vinegar to a rich, syrupy consistency (classy, no?). The recurring theme on the radio seemed to be manners, conversation, and surviving the awkwardness of family gatherings. Because you can choose your friends, but you can’t choose family.

Because you can choose your friends, but you can’t choose family.

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Family chooses you … via genetics.

The survival technique was this … avoid controversial topics. Don’t talk about religion, politics, or current events that may spark passionate debates about the morality of interceding in world affairs. Keep it light-hearted and try to be a good listener; include the hard of hearing in your conversations by speaking loudly and wildly gesticulating.

…include the hard of hearing in your conversations by speaking loudly and wildly gesticulating.

The passionate citizen in me cringes to hear this advice. Because I am fascinated by the opinions of others, especially about the things that are so controversial as to be taboo; I want to be involved in meaningful dialog about the world and my place in it. This is intimacy, which if not shared with family means that all family gets to see of me is a hollow shell of the complex human being I have become over the last 26 years. They see the 12-year-old kid that read too much, that wrestled a little too rough with uncle Bob.

GawkyEdit
Suuuuper gawky.

They know me as the gawky, awkward, and only occasionally gregarious child that I’ve been running from ever since I graduated from college and had to finally enter the “real” world.

They know me as the gawky, awkward, and only occasionally gregarious child that I’ve been running from ever since I graduated from college and had to finally enter the “real” world.

Don’t they see that I am trying to cultivate an aura of class and grace, that of a fascinating and urbane woman, a member of the global citizenry? Can’t they take me seriously?

Part of me would like to think that they don’t see me at all, for all of the reasons stated above; that they see a ghost of me; an imprint of who I was, not who I am. There’s probably a little bit of truth to that, but there’s also probably truth to this, too: they actually see the real me all too well …

but there’s also probably truth to this, too: they actually see the real me all too well …

When I imagine the woman I’d like to be, she can hold a conversation about which beige my aunt will be painting the living room of her new townhouse. She laughs at all the right moments; her timing is impeccable. She remembers little observations from conversations past, which proves all the more that she is really listening. That, and she has the amazing, almost miraculous, ability to gracefully steer the conversation away from Grandma’s recent root canal (Grandma is the queen of inappropriate conversation).

That, and she has the amazing, almost miraculous, ability to gracefully steer the conversation away from Grandma’s recent root canal …

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Soooooo classy.

But that’s not me. I am no Princess Grace, and I could never be the wife of a powerful politician. I am simply not a schmoozer, and the person who I crave to emulate is the ultimate schmoozer, disingenuous, politically correct, and always changing herself to accommodate the company with which she finds herself. I, on the other hand, get bored easily, love to talk about myself, and don’t mind seeing people squirm a little. I am loud, gregarious, passionate, and a little bit neurotic. I am self-conscious about my weight. I will say almost anything for a laugh, mostly at my own expense, but I’ve been known to throw a friend under the bus, too, if the timing is just right. Besides … it is an awkward and somewhat gawky person who gracelessly brings up ungraceful topics at the dinner table: like politics, religion, and the Syrian refugee crisis. Such an act is wholeheartedly UNclassy.

My family knows this about me, and they love me anyway.

My family knows this about me, and they love me anyway.

So I should probably throw away the judgments I have, of me (I am not as graceless as I think I am, nor as self-absorbed), and of them (they’re probably not thinking any of the terrible things about me that I fear they are). That’s the really classy thing to do. Be myself. Give a damn. And roll with the punches; the worst thing that can happen: I can make a giant ass of myself.

But, hey, eventually they’ll forgive me for that, too; after all … you can’t choose family.

But, hey, eventually they’ll forgive me for that, too; after all … you can’t choose family.

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Adorbs…

 

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One Comment

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  1. Well written young lady! And we do love you no matter what. Though with a family ranging from the outspoken liberal to the die hard right winger, politics just might be a topic to walk warily about.

    See you tomorrow for round two. And I won’t complain too much when you whoop me in Bananagram.

    –Your aunt with the decidedly gray living room walls! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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