During holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas, many of us celebrate with extended family that we maybe don’t interact with all that much throughout the rest of the year. This cultural habit has long been a source of anxiety for some and has also provided comedic fodder for many a standup comedian.
Of all the contributing factors for this common feeling of “awkwardness” or “stress” at family gatherings, two that are often mentioned are politics and generational gaps.
Despite of – or rather because of – these differences, I think it’s all the more important for us to use this time of year to practice reaching out across the divisions in the spirit of fellowship and love.
In that spirit, I constantly remind myself that someone’s politics – no matter how passionate they may be about them – are just one part of a person. Also, I’ve learned to appreciate the different attitudes or roles that people tend to take on as they grow up, age and enter different stages of their life.
Especially with a presidential election year coming up right around the bend, I think it’s all the more important to try to do our best to take a break from politics, for sanity’s sake. So, if someone brings them up, I suggest calmly changing the subject to dogs or cats, football or some other common interest.
As for the differences between generations, I often remind myself of a quote by Ben Franklin:
“At twenty years of age the will reigns; at thirty, the wit; and at forty, the judgment.”
One of the reasons why I appreciate this quote so much – even though 40 is hardly the ripe old age it was in Franklin’s time – is that it acknowledges that at different ages, people tend to act differently, and that that’s OK, because everyone has a different role to play in making the world a better place.
So with that, I wish you all a happy Thanksgiving, a merry Christmas and a happy New Year.
Travis Hairgrove is a reporter for the Herald-Banner. He can be reached at email@example.com.