Dear Vicki: I need help. I just found out that our traditional family Thanksgiving is at risk. Earlier this year my brother Derek married Leslie, who I’m sure is a Fire. She’s funny, scattered, and has no structure, a fact that became apparent last week while discussing Thanksgiving. We usually have a private dinner for the 18 of us, but that seems to be out the window because Derek and Leslie are hosting the holiday. And they are dumping the turkey and throwing a party for 50! How can I get things under control and back to the traditional Thanksgiving we all love? Signed: Disgusted Guy in Denver
Dear Disgusted: How to celebrate Thanksgiving brings up lots of issues here in the States. This isn’t really too surprising because stress and expectations around the holidays often make our differences more apparent. But worry not, there is hope for the holiday. Let’s start by looking at the key players in your scenario.
It’s wonderful news that your brother has married. If Leslie is as Fiery as you say she is, and Derek enjoys that, it means he probably has a great deal of Earth (Fire feeds Earth) or Water (they’re attracted to the light and activity of Fires, the yang of summer to Water’s wintery yin). Derek probably isn’t a Wood because he’d feel burned out by too much Fire (Wood feeds Fire), or a Metal because he’d feel threatened by too much Fire (Fire controls Metal). And it’s unlikely that he’s a Fire himself or you would have mentioned how similar Derek and Leslie are.
If Derek is either an Earth or a Water, he won’t have much structure (Wood and Metal are the most structured of the elements), so will be less concerned regarding exactly what happens around Thanksgiving. If he’s a Water, he’ll be perfectly happy going with the flow. If he’s an Earth, he’ll just want everyone, especially his new wife, to be happy.
That said, the fact that Derek is on board with a gathering of 50 suggests that he is less likely to be a Water and more likely to be an Earth. Waters really don’t like large gatherings and parties, but Earths will gladly feed the world. And for a Fire/Earth couple, “The more, the merrier!” perfectly sums up their approach to a holiday.
This isn’t sitting too well with you because I suspect you’re a Metal. You are clearly feeling out of control and slightly threatened by the presence of Leslie in your inner circle. And to top it off, she appears to be attacking one of your sacred constructs: tradition. Metals love and honor tradition. It explains and holds together reality for them. To a Metal, traditions are the distillation of wisdom, experience, and truth woven into ways of being that create success and safety. “We’ve always done it this way for good reason!” is often the mantra of a Metal, and Leslie is threatening that for you and perhaps other members of your family. So what to do?
First, you may need to accept the fact that life and the holidays may never completely return to a pre-Leslie state of quiet. And that could be a positive. The holidays should be fun and no one can make things fun quite like a Fire. For this first holiday with Leslie, could you attend the party she and Derek are throwing and just see how it goes? It might be more fun than you think if you give it a chance. Then, to embrace the traditional aspects of Thanksgiving that might be missing from Derek and Leslie’s party (like the turkey), but are important to you and other family members, why not plan a smaller, more “normal” Thanksgiving meal for the weekend after Thanksgiving? That will honor tradition and hopefully give your family the rare opportunity to have the best of both worlds: new experiences and old favorites.
If you can relinquish your need to adhere exclusively to past protocols, which is often hard for a Metal to do, you might find that this will be one of the best Thanksgivings yet. I wish that for you, your family, and everyone. Happy Thanksgiving!