If you are blessed enough to be gathering with family and friends this Thanksgiving, you might be thinking that it’s a mixed blessing. We love our families, but they can sometimes say the wrong thing…or share an embarrassing story….or be grieving and need encouragement. So how can you handle these situations?
Perhaps Thanksgiving stories from the Deer Run Saga can give all of us a few pointers. When it came to family gatherings, the Lowe family could spark plenty of conversation!
Handle embarrassing moments with humor:
Children can say the most unexpected things, which can cause deep embarrassment, as well as hilarity. There was just such a moment in The Road to Deer Run when six-year-old Sarah blurts out a phrase she has heard her mother say—without understanding it might be inappropriate in front of a male guest.
It was a statement by her midwife/mother that started the verbal exchange:
“Well, I am so relieved that Missus Stearns did not begin her travail before I could partake of this Thanksgiving bounty.” The midwife sat back from the table, obviously satiated. “She should be sending for me any day now.”
“The husbands come home from war,” Sarah interjected, “and nine months later they are calling for the midwife. That is what mother always says.” Sarah innocently resumed eating her cake, wiping crumbs off her blue woolen bodice.
Mary’s eyes widened with embarrassment.
Widow Thomsen glared at her young daughter and said tersely, “That is what we say in the company of females only, Miss Sarah.”
“I am sorry, Mr. Lowe.” The girl’s face reddened. “I did not realize that men did not know this was the way of it.”
Everyone stifled a laugh and Daniel nearly choked on his piece of cake, so amused was he by this exchange.
“That is quite all right, little miss. I am grateful to be informed of the ‘way of it.’ “ He stole a glance toward Mary, who was turning a bright shade of scarlet. “Your cake is delightful.”
It was a brilliant strategy on Daniel’s part by not allowing Sarah to be humiliated and by changing the topic to diminish Mary’s embarrassment.
Allow those who are grieving to share their sadness:
In The Promise of Deer Run, veteran James Thomsen, home from the Revolutionary War for several years now, is still plagued by the years away from Deer Run. He missed so many moments with his family while defending his country—moments in time lost forever. It was the sharing of a hilarious family memory that occurred while he was away at war that abruptly brought a stab of regret to James’ heart.
Sarah’s older brother suddenly stopped laughing and stared with fondness at his little sister. “I did miss a great deal of your childhood, did I not? So many years at war…” James looked sadly into the distance.
Hannah took his hand. “We all missed you so, James. We knew why you needed to be gone. And we are so proud of you.” She leaned over and kissed her husband gently.
He smiled but the joy did not reach his sad eyes. “Thank you, Hannah, but those years with all of you are gone forever. That is what I regret the most.” He took a sip of wine from his tankard and sighed.
Everyone was quiet for several moments as they recalled those somber years. It was Widow Eaton who broke the silence.
“Let us not dwell on the sad past but on our joyous and bountiful future.” She held up her tankard of wine. The others raised theirs as well.
A hearty, “hear, hear” to Hannah for acknowledging her husband’s pain, for the group for not trying to diminish his loss, and for the widow who encouraged the group to have hope for a peaceful future and not dwell in the past.
Don’t spoil family conversation by speaking about politics:
In The Legacy of Deer Run, Thanksgiving dinner is filled with fine food and delightful conversation—until Susannah’s brother, Stephen, brings up politics.
“So what do you think of the election next month, Father?”
Mr. Dobbins scowled. “I think our country is in for another precarious attack upon our freedoms. With that extremist Jefferson in the running, no telling where our country is headed.”
Stephen nodded. “The newspapers are filled with attacks on President Adams—accusing him of being a monarchist, senile, vain and having an ‘ungovernable temper.’ ‘Tis getting fractious and ugly. And that beastly Burr running with Jefferson.” Stephen shook his head and took another sip of wine.
“Well, when the Electoral College meets December3, let us pray they remember Jefferson’s zealous support of the French, despite their attacking our naval vessels. I think Jefferson was in France far too long. His arrogance smacks of sedition.”
The room became very quiet.
Danny noticed Susannah had grown very pale and she rested both hands on the table. She gripped the tablecloth. Eyes narrowing, her voice trembled when she spoke.
“Do you think we will have another war, Father?”
What started out as the perfect Thanksgiving meal quickly morphed into a setting ripe for indigestion—and fear. The political conversation was halted by the men at the table, but it was too late to assuage Susannah’s anxiety. Words once spoken cannot be retrieved.
So when you gather with your family and friends this holiday, try to be sensitive to others who may be grieving, be careful to avoid distressing political talk, and by all means, keep a sense of humor if and when embarrassing moments occur. And if your family is anything like the Lowe’s, something unexpected can always happen!