Friday, November 25, 2016


Y'know, back when my grandparents were living, we made the four-hour drive to Houston to visit them for all the big holidays. I have vivid memories of Game Boys and apple-juice boxes in the backseat, and waving to the big statue of Sam Houston as we passed, and a dog or two that always woke up and whined whenever we got off the freeway.

But I also remember Mom and Dad explaining that there were some things we talked about at home that we weren't going to talk about in Houston, because it would upset Nana and Pawpaw. I'm sure my sister and I messed that up a few times, but overall it was the most natural thing, the understanding we had through our whole lives: our parents were liberal, and our grandparents were conservative, and that meant that there were some things we wouldn't agree on. It never kept us from playing gin rummy or making flapjacks or watching Nana cry when we played Leontyne Price's "O Holy Night" on Christmas Eve. (EVERY time, y'all. Every time.)

It was only later, as a teenager, that I realized that what our family did was not universal - that lots of families couldn't enjoy each other's company at all - and only MUCH later, as an adult, that I realized that there were legitimate reasons for that - that some people just can not control their emotions or behavior, and are not safe to be around. So I will never question or criticize anyone who chooses not to visit their family.

But y'all - this year, of all years, I am more grateful than ever that our parents went the extra mile to make sure we did not miss out on having grandparents. I am so, so glad that they made sure we spoke thoughtfulness as a first language. And for all you guys who are doing that same work this weekend - choosing your words carefully, focusing on the things you CAN do and discuss together, taking care to make the time enjoyable for everyone at the table - you have my deepest appreciation. We need you now, maybe more than ever before. And the values you're living right now will last longer and reach farther than you know.


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