Putting the “Fun” back in “Dysfunctional” Or How to Have a Family Thanksgiving!

This is repeat of an older post that is back by popular demand…we won’t go into what constitutes popular at this time! I pray you enjoy!

Thanksgiving is so much more than enjoying a wonderful meal, praising and thanking our Lord for the many blessings in our lives, sitting back with our belts unfastened as we root for a football team….Thanksgiving is also that time of year when we recognize how truly “whacked” our families can be! And if you are wondering, “whacked” is a Greek term meaning “I don’t know how we are related!”

At this point, some of you are thinking, “he can’t be talking about MY family!” and another group is thinking, “How did he know?” Oh, and the first group…they are lying…they KNOW I’m talking about their family with as much assuredness that I am talking about MY family.

As I type these words I am in California visiting my brother and his ex-wife. You read that right, his ex. They get along better now than when they were married. Of course that is because she can leave at will! Don’t get me wrong, I love my brother because, well, he is my brother and that is what we do when we are family. But I can tell you it isn’t easy.

Lunch today was a great example. We are on a tremendously short time table and my brother is on his lunch break from his practice…I really can’t say more than that but assume that he is treating “patients” in some manner. He announces to the wait staff that we are in a hurry. She leaves. Not exactly what he had in mind. She comes back….in 5 minutes. (I think he is starting to vibrate but it is hard to tell for sure). She takes our order, turns to go, and we are thinking, “lunch will turn out alright.” We were wrong.

She stops at the next table to take their order too! I don’t think that is what my brother had in mind when he was thinking “hurry”: Nope, not what he was thinking, he calls over the head waiter. Apparently my brother felt it was his solemn duty to inform the staff on the proper ordering process and how, when a table is in a hurry, their order should probably get turned in…oh…you know, like, right away! At least that is what it sounded like he said but his teeth were really clenched tight and it was a little difficult to understand him.

When the meal for the people at the adjacent table, who sat down after us, and had their order taken right after us arrived at their table before ours…well, let’s just say we got to meet Ricardo the manager. I am so thankful that my brother showed me how to go right to the top in these situations. And my brother, after explaining again what a rush we were in was so overjoyed that for his trouble, he was given a card for a free appetizer the next time he chose to come to this fine and understanding establishment. I’m betting that card will be unused for a long time.

Meanwhile, back at “awkward central” the rest of us are staring at our salads examining the many facets of lettuce placement and texture. Internally thinking that “spontaneous human combustion” was a worthwhile goal for moments like this. And suddenly I thought. Jesus dealt with some of this too.

No, it wasn’t the challenge of rudeness towards a waitress or manager, it was the awkwardness of dealing with family (and others) who thought Jesus was crazy. And while the text doesn’t say this was Thanksgiving, please notice the similarities.

Jesus entered a house. Again a crowd gathered. It was so large that Jesus and his disciples were not even able to eat. His family heard about this. So they went to take charge of him. They said, “He is out of his mind.” (Mark 3:20-21)

Maybe it has to do with the large meal but it seems that at these large family gatherings, someone is saying something that someone else doesn’t agree with and the next thing you know someone is saying “He’s crazy!”

This wasn’t the only time that people questioned Jesus’s sanity. When, in the Gospel of Mark, chapter 5, Jesus told Jairus and his wife that his little girl wasn’t dead rather she was “only sleeping” (or as Billy Crystal would have said “mostly dead!”) the crowd laughed at Him. Obviously thinking He was a bit off!

So how did Jesus handle these scenarios? Or perhaps the better question is “how are we supposed to handle our scenarios?” Well space doesn’t allow me to go through line by line but I can tell you that Jesus stayed focused on Truth. He stayed focused on pointing out that a divided house won’t stand (and neither will a family). That we need someone to forgive us of all the times we have missed the mark (now there is a reason to be thankful!). And that we need to believe…in the love of the Father and in the words of the Son.


This won’t make my brother suddenly treat those around him better…but it does remind me who gives me the Grace to love my brother regardless of how he treats me or others. And because of Jesus’ love for me, I have something left over for others too!

And speaking of leftovers, it is just about time for that first turkey sandwich…for which I am truly thankful!