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SaraKay Smullens

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Avoiding Turkey-Time Misery

Posted: 11/12/08 02:11 PM ET

We are approaching Turkey Time; and if you are developing indigestion, if your reflux is acting up (or starting for the first time), if you are reaching for that little purple or pink or whatever colored pill, be comforted. You are not alone.

While holiday blues lasting from pre-Thanksgiving til January 2 are not uncommon, they usually have had more to do with unfinished emotional family business than politics. You know, unresolved stuff like: my mother/father will not stop trying to run my life and I have to be with her/him/them on Thanksgiving and beyond; my sister/brother/cousin was always the family favorite, so here we go again; my kids are not the little geniuses of cousins or siblings or whatever, and my folks let them know it the same way they have always let me know it.

Of course holiday depression has ever been there when one feels isolated and alone at a time when all else seem joyous. Or one feels betrayed, humiliated or abandoned by a partner or loved one.

There is also separation through death, where partners, sons, daughters, parents, friends deeply mourn the loss of a beloved. I think of this deep quality of sadness as a continuous love letter. We will ever miss those we have loved dearly, but can no longer touch and smile with. Yet, the tincture of time heals and teaches that conversations still continue, sometimes quite unexpectedly.

For loved ones do take forever apartments in side of us. With each grandchild's birth, I could hear my beautiful mother tell me how happy and proud she is. And when, at age 6, our oldest became critically ill with type one diabetes, my mother's voice comforted me with her wise common sense: "We will work our hearts out for a cure."

My husband's oldest son, Jonathan, died at age seventeen a few months before his dad, Stan, and I met. Jonathan is with his growing family every day, remembered silently, and spoken of continuously. Jonathan shared the birthday year of our new President; his memory has now been blessed with a namesake, our youngest grandchild, Joshua.

But this year's Turkey Time queasiness is different than in past years. Strong political views have been part of family conversations and heated differences for all time. But the lies and distortions about Al Gore and John Kerry have sickened millions of Americans. The filthy political tactics and aftermath of horrifying policies during the years of Bush '43 gave millions awareness that our beloved country was being ripped from us. For eight years there has been no respite, only growing horror.

Now, however, despite overwhelming problems, there is hope. We can once again believe ourselves when we tell our children and grandchildren that with hard work and respect toward others anything and everything is possible...

Still, many we know and love do not share our joy. As one reader wrote in response to a recent blog: " My husband is a Reagan Republican who did not vote. AAARRRHHH! My brother is a die hard right winger, my older sister is a lock step Republican... I am dreading the holidays this year."

What to do to calm tummy and spirit? First realize that though we may sit at the table of our youth, we are no longer helpless children. We can care for ourselves and we have choices. Also, remember that it is far better to stay away from political discussions that will inevitably turn nasty.

There are many easier topics to stay with: stories about past and present guests, dropped or uncooked turkey and stuffing that had a life of its own (and not a good one), and even the dining room table that has had a work out of spills, sick babies, and more.

If you know you are anticipating a meal laced with digs and putdowns, subtle and overt, either political, personal, or a combo practice changing the subject. Or turn in conversation to one at the table you enjoy. If you prefer, turn off and think your own thoughts. You can also choose to make holiday plans with "chosen family" -- not necessary related by blood.

And here's a calming a pre-turkey prediction: By next year, Barack Obama and his White House family will have changed the hearts and minds of many critics you will be breaking bread and wishbones with, perhaps wishing you were free to break something else entirely. Til then, I love the attitude of a cherished friend who recently planned to attend the wedding of an ultraconservative family member. She wrote: "I will carry Obama's win as a secret joy."

Read more reaction from HuffPost bloggers to Barack Obama's victory in the 2008 presidential election

 
 
 

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