Thanksgiving will soon be here and today is the day I shop for the food. My wonderful daughter-in-law will make a lot. I am assigned turkey with stuffing and dessert. I have no choice in this matter as my family loves and demands the two desserts I will be making….real New York cheesecake and pumpkin chiffon pie. They love these and beg for them each year.
This is one time I enjoy cooking. I have someone to cook for and I am cooking my favorite things. As usual, there will be fun and interesting conversation. My son and granddaughter love to push each other’s buttons. A heated discussion will be verboten at my table. I want to enjoy my dinner and not get stomach upset so I will warn the two ahead of time. They really love each other but have fun making each other angry and this is not the time for that. “Grandmother” me doesn’t like it at a meal.
No matter what holidays there are always interactions among family members. Some are fun and some are not so fun. In my family in have found that setting down ground rules before hand can make the day fun and pleasant. Any disagreements get left at the door. I have sent a text to the two combatants requesting peace.
It is not always possible to do this but if you can it will help the day be truly a thankful one. I hope everyone is finding some way to help those who have no family or friends to be with. Our church offers a meal with everyone bringing something to share. The people who go love this and are excited about it each year.
Everyone matters. It is so easy to dismiss people as not being worth our notice. I have frequently visited nursing homes with many patients in wheelchairs sitting the hall. I have noticed that most people pass them by without comment. It is as if they don’t exist. How terrible to be relegated to such a position. I have always made it a point to speak to each resident and smile. Most of them are so happy to have someone reach out to them and I receive lots of smiles in return.
I live in the South of the United States and there is a big difference just walking the streets of the town I live in. People routinely smile and speak as they pass on the street. The city has a large Art college with lots of students and it is easy to tell that some of them are startled when passers by speak. You can see them wondering whether to respond. I am not sure that this is routine in all southern cities but it is in many that I have visited. It is nice to acknowledge people and have them respond.
However many people do not speak to those who are obviously homeless. They choose to not acknowledge their existence. So even in a place where people routinely greet another person they still attach a stigma to those less fortunate. I do continue to speak to them and usually get a smile in return.
I can’t imagine what it must be like to feel as if you don’t exist. I know that has happened to many who suffer from mental illness. They certainly know what it feels like to be deliberately ignored.
I hope that we can learn to see each person as a human being deserving of being recognized. I wonder how thing would change if this were so.
I read the daily articles from Richard Rohr who is a wonderful source of inspiration for me. Today he quoted the works of Viktor Frankl who was a respected psychiatrist. Frankl talked about how most of us seek for meaning at some point in our lives. I know this has been true for me.
I have found myself at several points asking “what is it all about?”
Frankl posited three possible sources for meaning: in work, in love and in courage. He talks about the possibility of being able to do work that has some meaning. There are jobs where this seems obvious….doctors, nurses, social workers. (there are lots more) In other jobs meaning may not be so easy to find. I am sure that those of us writing blogs have found some meaning in the response we receive and the assurance that we are helping others. This is very affirming.
The second idea…love…also seems fairly clear. Hopefully our love reaches out to others. It allows us to help others in our everyday lives. Again this allows for meaningful affirmation.
The third idea….courage…means being courageous in difficult times. This certainly includes times of suffering. He says that suffering by itself has little meaning. The meaning comes from how we respond to it. We have the ability to use our suffering to be an example to others. Our response can encourage others who are facing the same kinds of challenges.
It seems to me that many of the bloggers I read can find affirmation that their lives have meaning as so many blogs help others. The community members need to see that this work can bring meaning to their lives. You are important!
We all need someone to talk to. We all need someone who actually hears us. It may not be the people we love but we need someone. We were not created to go through life alone.
We are communal people. The earliest humans survived because they lived together. We are no different. One of the worst tortures that a human can go through is to be confined alone in a room for a long period. Most people would lose their minds.
It is sometimes difficult to find that person who will really hear us when we share our lives. Too often people are thinking of themselves and not really listening. Often we are sharing with someone who truly cares but wants to fix everything. Most of the time we don’t expect or even want ideas for fixes. All we really want is to be heard. The trouble is most people don’t understand that.
This is the reason that so many people need to talk with a psychologist or psychiatrist. They should be the ones who really listen. (at least if they are any good) If we don’t have someone to share with then they are certainly a help. At least they shouldn’t be judgmental or share confidences.
In the last year I have also found that this community on Word Press is a good place to share and be heard. We are understood the best when someone else has had similar experiences. In this community there is understanding and affirmation. Sometimes it is hard to find that kind of understanding elsewhere.
Wherever you find it seek someone who will listen and hear you. Even if they can only seek to share your feeling it is a help. If you don’t have anyone to talk with face to face you can find understanding here.
I don’t know how much I will post in the next few days. I may be wrapped up in stuff at the Mayo Clinic. However, I may need to write to vent. I’ll just see how it goes. To add to the aggravation I am coming down with what seems to be a cold. Ah well, life goes on.
“Until you dig deep you only know a small part of the human heart.” Another quote from “Tea Time for the Traditionally Built” By Alexander McCall Smith. His books about Botswana have much wisdom in them.
We can’t know everyone really well. It’s not possible. In most cases we don’t even try to. We only see the outside…the piece that people show to us. Too often we all are wearing masks and don’t want to let anyone in. It is difficult to get beyond the mask. Sometimes we can’t.
Sometimes there are people who drive us crazy…people who get on our last nerve. We can hardly bear to be around them. Then someone tells us that they spend all their time caring for a mother with Alzheimer’s. And lo! we realize that the person who seemed so awful to us was too stressed, anxious and tired to be nice.
We had to dig deep to find out what it is like where the heart lives. We have to be willing to be the caring person. We have to open ourselves to the idea that there may be something in their life to explain how they act.
I have met a lot of people in my life. Some of them I never wanted to see again. I may have been right about some but I also may have been wrong. I didn’t take the time to find out. I hope someone else did.
Recently my daughter prompted me to write some of the stories about my father. He was a brilliant man who never had an opportunity for education past high school He read everything he put his hands on and never stopped learning. This story is one I love. I think it was about the 1930’s.
My grandmother raised chickens. When one was wanted for dinner a chicken was killed by her, cleaned and prepared for dinner. My parents and grandparents lived in the same house. For some reason my mother and grandmother were very busy and asked my father to kill a chicken for dinner. They asked the man who hated to swat a fly.
My father went out the back door. He was gone for a long time. The two cooks started to wonder what was taking him so long.
Eventually my father returned with the requested chicken. It was dead, had its feathers, but it was cold.
My father, unable to kill a chicken, had gone to the grocery and bought one. In that era they sold chickens freshly killed but not cleaned. My mother and grandmother refrained for commenting and went on to prepare the chicken for dinner.