Couplespeak™ Blog

Thanksgiving 2020 and Permission Not to Be So Thankful This Year

I read this CNN article and thought it was very timely and right on, I couldn’t have made this point any more clearly, so I’ve re-printed it.

I hope you relate to it, and I’d say “Happy Thanksgiving!” but that kind of goes against the whole point here!

Enjoy your meal, whatever company you can safely have, and hopefully, the day off……

Susan

You have permission to not be thankful this Thanksgiving

By Allison Hope, CNN

Updated November 23, 2020

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Author Allison Hope intends to focus on eating her feelings about 2020 with extra helpings of sweet potato pie this Thanksgiving.

(CNN)The gratitude is being dished out in platitudes this Thanksgiving.

“This Thanksgiving’s a bust, but try to focus on gratitude,” advised one health site, a precursor to a warning to avoid gathering outside our immediate households for the holidays.

“Share gratitude, not COVID this Thanksgiving,” another warned.

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You can serve up a portion of gratitude for your Thanksgiving this year, but don’t expect me to join you. I am going to focus on eating my feelings with extra helpings of sweet potato pie that I don’t have to share with anyone — because no one else is coming to Thanksgiving.

In a year when a once-in-a-century pandemic collided with social and political unrest, an unhinging economy and job market, and increasingly severe weather events, I vacillate between feeling something more akin to sheer terror. That’s on the opposite end of the spectrum from gratitude. My cornucopia is impacted by supply chain shortages, global trade wars and an impending dark winter that is coming more quickly than I’d like.

I have plenty to be grateful for, I know. I remain gainfully employed and am privileged enough to get to work from home. As of this writing, I still have my health, not having yet caught the virus (knock on everything) that has killed more than 1.3 million people around the world. While I know people who have died from Covid-19, including those my age in my extended networks, my immediate circle remains, for the most part, well.

And yet. I am incapable of feeling the joy that has, for every Thanksgiving prior to 2020, accompanied me to the homes of friends and family. There will be no road trips, no extended family hugs, no old friends in town visiting and reminiscing over a tall cold one, no spontaneous moments featuring new characters. This year is all plot twists without the comic relief.

I have landed in a new place this year, one where it’s perfectly acceptable to want people to take their gratitude and shove it up this year’s pathetically small turkey cavity.

Yes, I retain the right to feel full-on Scrooge this year, and I invite you to join me.

After all, forcing yourself to feel happy or gracious — when you simply don’t — isn’t a helpful thing to do. Forced positive thinking, in fact, does not make you happier, according to experts.

“The practice of gratitude has become popular in recent years, and it can be valuable, but not as a forced one,” said Thandiwe Dee Watts-Jones, a clinical psychologist and faculty member at the Ackerman Institute, a family therapy institute in New York City.

Forced gratitude is not constructive

We’ve all heard from any number of self-help research and books and podcasts and gurus that gratitude is a necessary embodiment to help us live fulfilling lives. But the truth is, sometimes gratitude just isn’t possible.

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Still, we might try in small ways to attach to some hope before diving back into that apple pie.

“As we approach the holidays dominated by losses, uncertainty, and human depravity, we can still be open, in a gentle way, to noticing what is good in our lives, what or who is holding us, a child’s smile, a poem, someone’s love, perhaps spirit,” Watts-Jones said. “We can allow appreciation for whatever beauty we may still see, even in the face of suffering, and if not, accept that at this moment, it is enough to be where you are.”

After our brief interlude with gratitude, feel free to snuggle back up to your inner bah humbug.

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If we’re getting real, Thanksgiving is also a uniquely American tradition (sorry, Canada, I am not counting you) whose origins are murky at best. In true fake news fashion, the original Thanksgiving story reeks of propaganda, a tale we take at face value to feel good about American history and to stuff our faces.

In reality, the story of Thanksgiving does nothing more than paint American lipstick on the proverbial colonial pig, hiding the true barbarism of a time when White men first set foot on the land that they would go on to claim, along with the lives of the vast majority of people already living there, whether by force or happenstance via smallpox.

There was no turkey, no ubiquitous kumbaya. In fact, the only thing that was widespread between America’s earliest settlers and the Native Americans was a deadly contagion that disproportionately took out people of color. Sound familiar? Maybe the first Thanksgiving has more in common with this year than ever before. Many emotions rise to the surface, but gratitude is not one of them.

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In the spirit of Festivus for the rest of us, and celebrating the anti-holiday to air grievances rather than pleasantries, I hereby rename Thanksgiving 2020 “Grumpstaking,” whereby we allow ourselves to feel whatever range of negative emotions we damn well feel like feeling without the pressure to proclaim all that we’re grateful for.

Don’t worry, you can eat all the pie.

Allison Hope is a writer and native New Yorker who favors humor over sadness, travel over television, and coffee over sleep.



Listen to my 6/17/20 BTR podcast “Strategies for Living More Fully Amidst the Covid 19 Pandemic”

If you missed the live podcast, you can listen to it at: www.BlogTalkRadio.com/SusanLager.

I’ve shared 16 key attitudes and behaviors for not only surviving, but thriving during this pandemic. I’ll think you’ll find them so helpful that you may want a copy of the printed list! If so, call me at The Couples Center voicemail 603-431-7131, and simply leave a message asking for The List. Several listeners have already requested it so they can have it on hand as a reminder for how to stay sane through this crisis.

Stay well,

Susan

When Things Fall Apart: BlogTalk Radio Episode 9/17/14 8:30 PM EST

Don’t miss my next BlogTalk Radio episode tonight about the subject of dealing with life when things fall apart. We’ve all had the experience at times of dealing with crises which create a sense of chaos and uncertainty – maybe the loss of a loved one, or a debilitating health issue, or the loss of a job or business. It always feels horrible and destabilizing, and often creates a story of victimhood or bitterness for us. But the fact is that misery is just another part of life – it inevitably comes with the joy, relief, and triumph that are also part of our story.

Tune into this half hour episode tonight and join the discussion or just listen in, and hear about some attitudes and behavioral tools which may help you to accept some of these hardships as part of being human, and move through these experiences with more wisdom and perspective. Call toll-free 877-497-9046, or if the lines are busy call 760-542-4114. I hope you can join me! If you can’t make the live show, listen to it online at your convenience by going to the web player on my website, www.SusanLager.com or at www.BlogTalkRadio/SusanLager.com

Facebook Envy

I have a love/hate relationship with Facebook. I love the idea that users can connect and re-connect with all the people they may have lost touch with. I love the “instant feedback loop” around ideas, events, and tastes. I love the marketing possibilities inherent in the site, being able to get a read on what potential clients and subscribers want and need. I love the inspirational content when it’s posted, and how it can change the day for so many people. I love the easy access to resources, often so difficult to find elsewhere.

But I hate all the posturing, self promotion, and mental masturbation which is so common on that medium. I hate all the PR falsehoods, the whole idea that anyone can have 3,000 “friends”! I don’t want to know all the graphic, obsessive details of Barbie’s awful time cleaning up Fido’s poop, and how it’s ruined the grass she paid thousands to maintain. I hate all the wasted time millions of people around the world are committing by living obsessively online, and not in their lives. I hate the marital violations and boundary crossings committed on Facebook which I work so hard to repair with couples. I hate the whole “faux intimacy” it generates, making face-to-face relationships seem so flat by comparison.

What I hate most of all is the envy it creates through all these illusions. I see so much unnecessary self-devaluation getting fueled by what Martha Beck refers to as “FOMO” – Fear of Missing Out, the idea that everyone else’s life is so fabulous, and they’ve all gone to a giant daily party that is exclusive.

If you ever have this experience of envy when you read other people’s posts on Facebook, then I have some tools for you which you may find helpful. I’ll share one here:

  • Think of what you are reading about other people as just the corner of the picture frame. You are often looking at the outside trimming, not the substance in the picture. It’s the part people want you to see, not the real internal deal. Would you buy a painting just because the frame looked good? Probably not. Trust that for all the ideal looking vacations, parties, connections, and fun stuff people are posting about, they too have disappointments, frustrations, hurts, and heartbreaks. Barbie may tell you about her dog poop dilemma, but probably won’t share her deepest issues. (If she does on that forum, then her boundaries are bad, or she needs attention and a good therapist.)

Hopefully, the next time you cruise the Facebook site you’ll take it all with a grain of salt, use what’s relevant, and stay with the goodness you experience in your own life.

If you’d like some one-on-one help with envy of any kind, I have other strategies which may be useful to you. Feel free to contact me at my Portsmouth office at 603-431-7131 for a live or remote session.

Cheers, Susan Lager

www.SusanLager.com

Dreading Another Birthday? Here’s An Antidote….

I recently turned a big number. WAY too big for comfort. I had been feeling a bit blue about my upcoming birthday, thinking about how lousy aging can be – worsening vision, hanging flesh, age spots, the need for Shingles shots, people you know dying, more aches and pains, and worst of all, time running out!

Even so, I greatly enjoyed our family’s four day celebration marking the event in Philly. After the weekend, I spent the actual day of my birthday off from work with the plan of doing intense “self nurture,” something I’m always yapping to my clients about needing to do for themselves. I felt a bit blue, however,  thinking about how fast life had gone by, so I went for a speed walk by the river nearby, feeling a bit lighter immediately. I immersed myself in gardening, cleaning out the beds and planting beautiful new perennials. Felt even better at that point. But the thing that really changed the day into something lovely was a simple thought. As a Baby Boomer, I realized what an amazing group of fearless, feisty, groundbreakers my generation was. We were the ones who initiated the women’s movement, reinvented music, fought for racial equality and sexual freedom, peace, love, and FUN, FUN, FUN!

I was a member of the club that transformed the world, and was now entering their last chapter of life. To celebrate, I brought out my stack of 60’s Rock CD’s, pumped up the volume (poor Dave next door!), and danced for hours, joyous to be at this place in my life, forever young.

So, if you’re dreading another birthday yourself, connect with all the amazing people in your own generation, celebrate your contributions, and enjoy the rest of the ride!

Cheers,
Susan Lager

Blog Talk Radio Host

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Susan Lager

I am a licensed, board certified pyschotherapist and relationship coach in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Through my psychotherapy or coaching services, I can provide you with skills and tools to transform your life.

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