Now that my husband and I are—perish the thought—Empty Nesters, we enjoy watching NetFlix movies from the comfort of our own sofa. Last night we chuckled through Hannah and Her Sisters, a perfect choice for this Thanksgiving season.
A quintessential Woody Allen movie, Hannah and Her Sisters is a mix of humor, angst, and—of course—dysfunction. Woody Allen plays the role of Mickey the hypochondriac; Mia Farrow, his seemingly perfect, peace-at-all-costs ex-wife Hannah. Michael Caine plays Hannah’s tormented husband Elliott who lusts after her sister Lee (Barbara Hershey); and Dianne Wiest, Hannah’s unlucky-in-love sister Holly who writes a best seller about their dysfunctional family. We see relationships dissolve, solidify, and intertwine over the course of two years, beginning and ending with Thanksgiving dinner.
A tormented soul, Mickey anguishes over the seeming “meaninglessness” of life, struggling to find hope and happiness in Catholicism (to the chagrin of his Jewish parents) and the Hare Krishnas. “I gotta have something to believe in. Otherwise, life is just meaningless.” Mickey seeks meaning…
Hannah seeks peace. Lee wants somebody (new) to love her and take care of her. Elliott longs to be needed. Holly craves success and significance, which she jealously believes Hannah has already attained. Characters in this movie want what they don’t have and angrily blame others for not having it. Hmmm…Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?
How many of us come from perfect families? I can’t name a single person. Some of us spend years and years in therapy trying to break free from the bonds of emotional or physical abuse and/or neglect. But at some point—some point—we need to stop blaming. We need to forgive others and forgive ourselves.
Anger and blame get us nowhere fast. It’s only through forgiveness that we can move on and start to live life to the fullest.
During this Thanksgiving season, let us be grateful for experiences that have shaped us into the person we are today. Let us be grateful for wounds that have formed us into people who can help others from a place of humility and understanding. Let us be grateful for a life of meaning and purpose. Dear, tormented Mickey, may you someday be able to say “L’chaim!” and mean it from the depths of your soul.