Participate in Thanksgiving as an archaeologist. This starts by innovating with prayer. As your adult self, be clear in advance about two things: 1) What you would like to have happen and 2) What you would like to contribute to the gathering.
Upon arrival, lovingly acknowledge everyone present (a sincere “Good to see you. How are you?”). This includes greeting folks you consider difficult. By doing this you are meeting a need everyone has – to be seen and heard. You can conclude your greeting by stating your intention (“I’m looking forward to a wonderful day.”). This sets a tone for the gathering and invites everyone to join you in joy.
Now you are free to charmingly observe the family/social dynamics in action as an archaeologist. You can notice the patterns of behavior, the topics of conversation and the dynamics between individuals. Family mythology (“Cheryl is the clever one.”) and lore (“Remember when Clifford …”) will be revealed. You can praise, affirm, receive and love from a space of lightness.
Attending as an archaeologist is a strategy. It doesn’t remove you from the gathering, but provides a buffer between you and the seductive pull of past pain. It frees you to be present and add to the gathering with your loving care.
“Mark, thank you! I was able to pass along your brilliant advice to a friend going into “it”. She got it!! And was immediately at ease.”
~ Jamie ~ Actress ~ Los Angeles
“I loved your idea of the social archaeologist. I couldn’t wait to try it out. At its first outing, it performed magnificently. It did exactly what it was supposed to do which was to take my attention off of myself. In a way, it felt as if I was at a museum analyzing a picture and therefore removed from the situation itself. An observer, rather than a participant. It worked. That’s all I care about. Results. And this one delivered. Thanks.”
~ A.H. ~