THANKGOODNESS FOR THANKSGIVING!

        "Think like a wise man but communicate in the language of the people." 
Willliam Butler Yeats

Thanksgiving: Opening day of the Holiday Season." The time of the year when you have to remember you are a family again. You know, don your best Sunday clothes, travel miles and miles together to visit other members of The Family, who you rarely see, in order to eat something you normally enjoy alone, sliced between two pieces of bread for lunch: Turkey. The turkey, star of the show, is presented stuffed to the gizzard; and before long, everyone in the room will have the opportunity to partake of that feeling, too.
Typically, given the physical constraints of a holiday table, you almost can not help talking to the person next to you. Even if its to say, "Excuse me, Uncle Mike, can you remove your elbow from my plate?" To your surprise and delight, you may actually find yourself doing more of something than you normally do all year: Communicating effectively. How often do you look at someone, make a statement, hear a direct response to that statement, and then, in turn, acknowledge that response? How often do you get to do so right in the midst of a cacaphony of chewing and talking in the background? After all, it's pretty tough to isolate yourself in a sea of moving arms and mouths and simply grunt when you are addressed...you know... the way you do at home!
For those individuals who enjoy communicating effectively with family members all year, this offering may seem trite. Why not just put this away and go have another helping of... whatever is leftover. However, for the greater majority of people, Thanksgiving traditionally signifies the beginning of a time of year to boldly stick-your-neck-out (unless you are a turkey, of course), and relate with those individuals you might otherwise ignore; and in so doing, practice some useful skills worthy of taking home: (1) Offering a statement or question while actually looking at the person to whom you are talking, (2) Receiving an acknowledgement of your statement from that individual (which definitely suggests you must exist!) and, (3) Then acknowledging that person's "acknowledgement."  So it could go like this... 
"Aunt Betty, this dressing is delicious."
"Really? I made it a new way and wasn't sure it would turn-out."
"Oh, yes, I wish I could have this at work for lunch with all my turkey sandwiches."
Thrust into this morass of well-mannered mastication, you might find yourself, after an initial warm-up period, communicating about "meat and potato" issues: The weather, the drive to Thanksgiving dinner, your favorite foods, hobbies and extra curricular activities, work, football, plans for Christmas and New Year's Eve, other people (behind their backs, of course), investments, Einstein's Theory of Relativity and... maybe your own! 
Its beginnings are, at times, reminiscent of a Junior High School dance.  When you first get there, few people are talking, no one is "dancing", and people situate themselves along opposite sides of a "fault-line."  After awhile, things loosen up and communication happens; people begin approaching each other, perhaps, awkwardly at first, and slowly make their way out to the dance floor. Interestingly enough, in time, this pattern seems so comfortable and familiar one can hardly remember when it was difficult, until the next school dance...or Thanksgiving, whichever comes first. 
It is curious how the holiday season becomes a cue-- a green light-- for many people to be comfortable doing something that seems to be "stuck in traffic" all year long. Communicating effectively becomes a refreshing pause for the remainder of the year, until the next stop light, January 2nd.  One interesting idea is that at this time of year, communication is facilitated by the fact that people who have so little in common suddenly have so much in common.
In the meantime, try it. Perhaps you will notice it while passing others completing their Christmas shopping, or at other family gatherings which occur between now and New Year's Day. And during the course of this period of time, you will have become so good at communicating, you might even say, "Thank goodness for Thanksgiving.