What with the holidays coming, people are worried about spending time with their family.
Families can be tricky. It’s hard to know what to say. And when to realize you know that you shouldn’t say certain things.
There are safe subjects: helpful tropes and platitudes.
I don’t like safe subjects. I like to be able to go deep.
But deep waters are dangerous. Someone could get hurt.
It’s good to have some prepared things to say.
When I was 18 and my friend came up to me so excited that she was engaged–to a 34-year-old rock’n’roll singer who had found religion. I was so shocked that I couldn’t think of what to say.
It was almost a minute before I remembered.
“Congratulations,” I said.
She took a step back. “Thank you!” She shook her head, ” You’re the first person who has said that.”
I was not surprised to be the first. I was surprised I had remembered to say it.
I recognized the value of these sayings and started to collect them.
“I’m sorry for your loss.”
“Best of luck.”
And my ambiguous favorite:
It’s not really about what I feel in these moments. It’s about giving a token of recognition to the person in front of me who needs it.
I see you. You.
I can wait. It’ll be my turn before long.