Earlier this fall Ellen DeGeneres received some criticism from her fans because she went to a football game in Dallas and was seen on national television hanging out with former president George W. Bush and his wife, Laura. People wondered on social media and in the entertainment world why a liberal-leaning gay talk show host from Hollywood had decided to sit next to a conservative Republican president at this big sports event. DeGeneres had an interesting reply. She said, “I’m friends with a lot of people who don’t share the same beliefs that I have.”
Then Ellen DeGeneres responded to the criticism in her television show which airs daily across the country. “When I say ‘be kind to one another’ I don’t mean only the people who think the same way you do.”
It is important wisdom as we head into the week of Thanksgiving. It’s a complicated holiday with a complex choreography of personalities among the gathering of family and friends. Most tables are graced by a combination of people who all bring their personalities, their prejudices and their tendencies to repeat old patterns, for good or ill. Often it takes great forbearance, and all the kindness we can muster to keep the deck of this ship of personalities on an even keel.
Some families have an unwritten rule about what you can and cannot discuss. Some people watch sports to avoid talking. Others play board games, or tell old jokes or drink. I really liked the Norman Rockwell picture about Thanksgiving, not because it is so iconic, but because it reminds us what really matters at Thanksgiving. Those steadfast and earnest children with their bowed heads are so full of reverence.
This Thanksgiving I hope you keep your sense of humor, remember what you cherish about one another, enjoy the meal, find someone who you don’t know and try to discover what you share, and leave room for reverence.
Thanksgiving blessings, Rev. Susan