Awakening on a holiday is a special feeling, with the anticipation of seeing family and friends. The smell of baked goods is in the air from last night, and soon the smell of turkey, gravy, and all of our favorite dishes will permeate the air.

What permeates the air matters. What is in the air at your Thanksgiving gathering? Will it be harmony or strife? Joy or anger?

During the Civil War, families were divided by their beliefs in what was or was not right. Brothers fought brothers. Some families lost all of their sons to the war.

Tough Holidays

Though I have fond memories, Thanksgiving in our house was occasionally unpleasant. Someone would speak up and criticize the ideals of others, and the joy-filled gathering we’d all looked forward to would be turned into a day we could not wait to be over.

Because we were together, sometimes after not seeing one another for months, it became the time for people to express their passionate ideals and to be critical of others with whom they disagreed. Rarely did it end well. Someone would throw a fit, walk out early, or act out in anger.

Blowing My Cool

How did that affect me? I became one who avoids conflict. When I hear anyone yelling for any reason, I can feel my blood pressure rising. I either have to escape the room or ask everyone to stop before it pulls me in and I blow my top, screaming out, “Please stop yelling!”

If you think about the purpose of Thanksgiving today, it is to gather your loved ones, to spend time together and be grateful for one another. Especially since many of us have been unable to see family in person for so long. If everyone comes in with being grateful for one another in mind, it can help. Arguing is unlikely to change anyone’s mind anyway.

Why ruin Thanksgiving?

No Drama

When I hold my in-person or virtual events, I lay out the rules in advance. Why? Because I hate drama. My rule is simply “no drama,” and I’m very clear that if drama occurs, I’ll ask you to leave. It’s only happened one time in 11 years, when a guest was obsessively negative with everyone, complaining about everything unreasonably. So I took this guest aside and asked her to leave, offering a full refund. It got her attention, and she behaved the rest of the time.

You’re Wrong!

We live in a polarized world. We’re going to disagree. Sadly, we’ve all become so convinced that we’re right that we’re unable to carry on civilized conversations and listen to others’ perspectives. We used to be able to disagree and remain friends, but these days, that is often not the case.

I hereby declare this NO DRAMA THANKSGIVING. Simple rules: No drama. No politics. No vaccination debates. And nothing that’s going to destroy the purpose of being together.

If you have to post the rules on the door, so be it.

Of course, do what you wish. But think about this.

What if this is the last time you see your family? Do you want to spend it arguing?

Turn the Other Cheek

There are times when I feel like going to battle, but I bite my tongue. Quite simply, I don’t need to win and I’m unwilling to rock friendships because we are not in sync in some areas. Instead, I seek to find common ground we both love.

Life is too short (proven recently for far too many).

Embrace your differences. Heal your wounds.

Forgive others.

Have a loving and peaceful Thanksgiving.

Eric Rhoads

PS: In case this newsletter is reaching you for the first time, I write a weekly message on Sunday mornings (and sometimes on holidays). You can subscribe here for free. For those who read regularly, thank you. I truly am grateful. There is nothing as satisfying as meeting you and hearing that you read Sunday Coffee every week. 🙂

In the Rhoads family, we’re keeping it small this year. Just my wife and the kids. We’ve missed them since they’ve been away at college, so this is an important time to just enjoy their presence. But there will be a big sign over the table saying, “Save the drama for the theater.”

Here is what’s going on at Streamline this week.

  • We are going to have some awesome Black Friday/Cyber Monday deals, so be sure to check out Streamline.Art over the next few days.
  • Don’t forget that the deadline to enter your art into the PleinAir Salon for a chance at $15,000 and the cover of PleinAir Magazine is coming up on the 30th.
  • We’ll be releasing a new video from Kevin Macpherson soon, so keep an eye on your e-mail for that announcement. This is monumental!! You can find it here. We offered it at Realism Live last week, and lots of people were thrilled to get it.
  • Oh, and we just released a killer new video from Kyle Buckland, which you can find here.
  • And Camille Prezwodek, the colorist and my teacher, is rapidly becoming one of the biggest video  sellers of the year.
  • I should mention that the Plein Air Convention will sell out fast (it’s already 50% sold) for next May in Santa Fe. And because of my daily broadcast, we will see more new people than ever, including lots attending the Basics Course. But we have to limit attendance, so I recommend not waiting. You can cancel any time without penalty. I know I’d love it as a Christmas or Hanukkah gift.
  • Be sure to watch my Art School Live show this week at noon Eastern by following Eric Rhoads, Publisher on Facebook.  And please follow me @ericrhoads on Instagram.