The holidays are both fun and stressful. There are beloved family members we haven’t seen in a while and delicious food that we haven’t eaten in a while. There’s the stress of relatives who drink too much and pick fights, kids who screech and scream and run through the house on sugar highs, and shopping and cooking and getting up in the wee hours to place the carcass of a decapitated, stuffed bird in the oven (turkey anyone?).
And then there are the prayers.
The thanks to god for all the food and the gifts he’s bestowed on us like health and wealth. Of course, we’re thinking of all the hypocrisies and pretenses of religious belief. And we sit there, silently, while the rest of our families pray because it would be pretty rude for us to say, “I’d just prefer to thank the cook instead.”
While the philosophers and pundits rake religion over the coals, although we may nod our heads in agreement, we are still left with the realities in our living rooms. Family and friends believe, and we don’t want something as personal and (to us) as inconsequential as religion to strain our relationships.
So I tell my kids, “bow your heads, remain silent.” We’re not compromising our views or betraying ourselves by creating peace in the space around us. Harmony and tolerance are part of our belief system. Prayers said at the table don’t mean that we’re participants. We’re merely observers. Peace-makers. It’s no skin off our backs.
This is not to say that, if someone attacks us for not believing, that we don’t bite back. But we realize we don’t need to take the offensive, to undermine anyone’s religious belief (especially grandma’s), on a day intended for celebration and good will.
We will hear some silly god-speak this Thanksgiving, things that make us want to roll our eyes or bust out laughing. But one thing we can be thankful for is that we are all above ground, celebrating together, no matter our beliefs.
Have a safe, happy and relaxing holiday, friends!
PS As you shop for the kids in your life after Thanksgiving, I saw this article on Time.com and thought it might be of interest. Toys that stimulate young brains.