Surviving Thanksgiving With Your Relatives

Most of the time we can avoid those people in our families who stress us out and unhinge our most aggressive tendencies. Thanksgiving is the exception.

As the late Johnny Carson said, “Thanksgiving is an emotional holiday. People travel thousands of miles to be with people they only see once a year. And then discover that once a year is way too often.”

All over the country, parents, siblings, aunts, uncles, cousins, in-laws and out-laws  will be gathering to traditionally give thanks around a table over flowing with both rich foods and alcohol-laced drinks, commemorating the holiday of Thanksgiving.  Especially nowadays, with how triggered people feel by politics.

It’s no wonder stress levels in general are at an all time high. So, how gracious, dignified and enjoyable will that dinner table atmosphere at Thanksgiving be? How can we possibly make it through dinner without incessant under-the-table knee pinching? Outright name calling? Hot heads on both sides abruptly leaving the table before the turkey has even been carved?

Before the big event if you are NOT hosting, to avoid the “wired and tired” state of mind:
Get a massage, mani or pedi or all three

Bone up on your anger management and conflict resolution skills.

Role play ahead of time how to diffuse Uncle Fred’s inappropriate rhetoric.

Do tons of deep breathing and stretching exercises the morning of

Meditate right before leaving the house.

Promise yourself that if you get through Thanksgiving with your grace and dignity intact that the day after you will do something shockingly decadent, delicious and utterly self-indulgent.

Before the big event if you ARE hosting, to avoid the “wired and tired” state of mind: 
Shower yourself with pampering the week before.

Don’t freak about the cleanliness quotient of your house. Honestly, no guest cares if your blinds are dusty and your windows aren’t sparkling clean. Focus on the meal.

Delegate, delegate, delegate.

Potluck it: ask each person to bring their signature dish.

Outsource the tough parts – like roasting an oversized turkey in your apartment’s pint size oven.

Consider professional catering.

To keep the more high-spirited, fiery guests separated, utilize place cards.

Recruit tons of clean-up help.

Never do it again.

Double the self-indulgent bonus on Friday. You earned it.

At the event:
Ban all political banter. (Tee Hee.)

Drink to excess and with every swallow repeat the following chant: I’m thankful. I’m grateful. I’m blessed. 

Wear stretch pants since it’s the day of no-diets. You can gobble til you wobble. Eat pie. Drink wine. Or eat wine and drink pie. Whatever.

Overload on carbs and sugar, rendering yourself useless to even follow a semi-rational discourse on any subject. After all, the average American eats around 4500 calories on Thanksgiving – equivalent to 14 slices of pumpkin pie – it’s almost like gluttony is our patriotic duty on this day.

Tirelessly switch the topic back to sports and fashion. (In my family, that may actually work.)

Inject some humor by telling wildly inappropriate jokes – at least keeping the kids enthralled.

On a more sober note:
Ask the kids to finish one of these two sentences:

Today is great because…

My favorite thing about Thanksgiving is..

Rev up your Gratitude Meter:

Messages abound this holiday season about the importance of mindfully employing gratitude. About choosing to be grateful. It’s simple: gratitude helps us see what is there in our lives rather than what is missing. It’s being grateful for everything: the highs and lows. The gains and losses. Disappointments and celebrations. Setbacks, come backs and the do- overs. Opportunities missed and risks taken.

Let’s face it: it’s not whether you view your cup as half-full or half-empty. It’s being thankful you even have a cup. The practice of gratitude simply turns what we have into enough. So on this day, let’s not look back at what we had nor ahead to what we hope to have. Let’s just enjoy what’s right in front of us.

Thanksgiving is a simple time for thanks and giving. Brene Brown says people are innately wired to be heard, acknowledged and valued. This is the time to do all three. And thank the host and hostess heartily.


Keep Preserving Your Bloom,

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