- Isolate your issues with the other person so you can deal
with them. While my issues are numerous, one of the things that
bugs me is the fact that I wind up being the sole waitress while my
guests make demands (with our guests, they're not requests). So
this year, we're putting each family member in charge of serving one
of the dishes. Hubby will be Master Turkey, in charge of carving
and doling out the bird. The 8-year old will be Salad Girl, ready
with tongs at any given moment. Junior is Captain Carbs, serving up
sweet potatoes and stuffing. And I will be Madam Side Dish,
transporting bowls of hot veggies to the table. I'll update this
post later to let you know if this did, indeed, lower my stress
- “Grieve for the family we wish we had but do not.” This
tip comes courtesy of the website for Psychology Today http://www.psychologytoday.com
and appears in an article entitled “The Thanksgiving Challenge.”
At first I thought the suggestion was a bit of psychological mumbo
jumbo, but the piece points out that at this time of the year,
families feel pressured to “embody a Norman Rockwell sense of
togetherness and gratitude” that may not exist. Thanks, Norm.
What I've come to realize is that most families fall far short of
this idolized image of family, so perhaps, like perfect bodies, it's
another media concept that has little basis in reality.
Unfortunately, we all feel pressured to live up to this unrealistic
image. Knowing I'm not experiencing something alone helps.
- Let your guests in on the agenda. People don't always like
surprises. We'll be letting the grandmas know what time we're
picking them up, what time dinner will be served, and what time
they'll be home. This should make it easier for them to plan their
before-visit and after-visit time accordingly.
- Keep conversation neutral. This is not the time to bring up
major issues or complaints you may have with the other person (save
that for Festivus).
- Figure out what you're going to say if someone does raise an
issue. My kids know to deflect unasked for criticism by saying,
“feel free to discuss that with my parents.” Saying, “I'm not
going to discuss this now – let's talk about it later” is a
perfectly valid adult response.
- Give yourself an unannounced time-out. Retreating to the
kitchen to catch a few breaths before you blow up or smack someone
with a 2'x4' is reasonable.
- Understand that it is not your responsibility to live up to
other people's expectations. Those are their issues, not yours.
Don't let them put the blame on you. Just say, “I'm sorry you
feel that way” and move on.
- Come up with some conversation starters. Ask questions like
“what's your happiest memory,” “if you could change places
with a celebrity, who would it be and why,” and “if you won the
lottery, what would you do with the money.” This starts your
company talking and helps avoid uncomfortable silences. Be aware
that some people are just uneasy in a group. Someone who is used to
dining alone may not have the social skills they once had.
- Be prepared with post-dinner activities. Thanks to the
website makingfriends.com, I found this free, printable Thanksgiving
we'll be playing with the Nanas.
- Plan a reward for yourself after they leave. Whether it's
playing a game with your little one or giving yourself permission to
look at silly cats on the Internet, have something to look forward
Need more guidance on how to get through Thanksgiving? Visit http://psychcentral.com/thanksgiving
for some great articles on surviving this holiday.
Please come back, before Thanksgiving, and visit me, won't you?