Commentary: The Turkey Day challenge: liking the family

It's that day again, Thanksgiving, the day we love to hate as we hate that we still love the people who drive us crazy.

Rather than thinking about the pumpkin pie yet to be eaten, we are remembering who it is we will be eating with. Some of us are flat-out fed up before we even start chowing down.

"She still has never apologized for that! What does she think I am, chopped liver?"

And so with all this swirling in my head, I offer a Turkey Day challenge:

To let go, laugh and sit next to the people who, frankly, you can't stand. We can do this, like a secret pact. Here's my recipe:



2 cups of suck it up

1 cup of amnesia

3 cups of memories of all the great times

3/4 cups bite your tongue

1 tablespoon of why not try this for one day

1 pound of forgiveness

2 pounds of laughter, (if not real, may substitute fake — no one will know the difference)


Mix ingredients in one big bowl. Beat fast and furiously until all the anger and resentment surface. Wait for one big sigh of relief, then stop. Sprinkle with I'm ready to let it go.

Let the tears rise to the top, and skim off the disappointment that things did not turn out the way you imagined. Set it aside and detach from expectation.

Now stir in hope for a better future. Add excitement that all things work for good in the end. And if it's not good now, then it's not the end.

Spread forgiveness evenly over the past, in a non-stick pan so it won't stick to the future when it's taken it out.

Bake at 450 degrees until golden brown. Take out of the oven, removing all the burned edges of the past, throwing parts in the trash when appropriate, and sprinkle with love.

Cut into pieces and serve with a smile that feels or at least looks genuine. Again if not real, fake it until you make it. No one will ever know the difference. That alone is grin-worthy.



OK, all kidding aside, I do think about the turkey, poor guy, who gave up his life so we could all be united around the table, thanking God for a free country, knowing we are free to worship with family in the land of opportunity.

I think about the first Thanksgiving in the 1600s, and the Wampanoag Native Americans who opened their land to the new intruders, teaching them how to fish and grow corn to stay alive. What must it have taken to see a new people colonize the very land that was yours for 12,000 years after sharing and sacrificing for the strangers.

One day before the feast, the Native Americans heard gunshots. Assuming it was betrayal and that the English were preparing for war, the Wampanoag leader came to confront the Pilgrims, only to learn that it wasn't betrayal at all. They were hunting for game to give back to friends in a foreign land who had saved their lives.

This is the story of the first Thanksgiving,a story of unselfish sharing, sacrifice, presumed betrayal, reconciliation and ultimately a bond.

Isn't this the same story of our own lives, our own families? In all the heartache and hurt feelings, this is a bond that somehow never breaks.

So this is our Turkey Day challenge. Approach this day with a new heart. See if you can turn some relationships around, and perhaps what you have thought was betrayal could have been a longtime misunderstanding.

Write the Coastline Pilot at with your real-life story of how this year was different.

Here's wishing you can genuinely smile and wholeheartedly laugh and open your heart with ultimate joy that this turkey, this year, did not die in vain.

Pie, anyone?

LISA HAMILTON is a Laguna Beach resident.

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