I can hardly believe that in less than two weeks we will gather around the Thanksgiving table. I have been distracted lately as have most people, and it’s time to move forward on both a macro and micro level. For today I’m choosing micro. I’m going to think about Thanksgiving, and making it great again.
For many people any Thanksgiving is stressful; almost as stressful as a presidential election, and combining the two may feel overwhelming. I can’t take the anxiety out of the election, but maybe I can help with the holiday. Will you be sitting down with people who will want to argue with you? If you want to argue, I say go for it, but if not you need to do some serious preparation
Talk turkey, or stuffing. You can spend quite a while discussing the pros and cons of cooked on the side vs. in the bird. If you’ve recently become a vegan or vegetarian you can regale the assembled company with how that’s going, and why you won’t eat turkey, and yes, turkey is meat. Skip that you think our President-elect is a turkey…
Spilling beverages is another effective strategy. If things start to heat up and volume increases knock over a full glass of something. I promise that will derail any topic you want to move from. If you have a sympathetic spouse or sibling tag team it. Tell a funny story (this may require some practice) and have them laugh so hard they spit their drink out from their mouth, or even better, their nose. That is a real crowd pleaser!
If you have enough little kids around they will provide plenty of disruption and entertainment to keep things moving along nicely. They will interrupt, sing, spill stuff and jump up from the table often enough to prevent any serious conversation from getting traction. Don’t have any little kids? How about a puppy? Now might be the time to get one, or even two. When all else fails, talk sports, or turn on the TV, to a sports channel please. Or some network playing an I Love Lucy marathon. I Love Lucy is the universal cure for family tension. I think.
If you’re lucky, as I am, when you gather you will be able to commiserate or rejoice together. You will be able to find comfort in each other’s company and do what like-minded families do—fight about other stuff. When we gather it’s important to keep your expectations for familial harmony low. These are the people you spent your first eighteen years fighting with, so you should be pretty good at it.
Heading into this or any family holiday saying ‘this year will be different ‘ is setting yourself up for failure. This year will be the same. The food may be a little better, or worse, the thermostat set insanely low or high, but if you will be sitting down to your Thanksgiving dinner with the same people you always have, it will likely be similar to Thanksgivings past.
Maybe you see your family often, or see them only a few times a year, either way they are yours, and you probably love each other, so if you want things to be better it’s up to you. You know what makes them laugh, you know what they like to do, or talk about, so go there. If you want to be with your people you need to accept and embrace who they are. If you think they are open to it, share your joys and concerns; tell your story. And if not, if you just can’t, if you know it will be miserable and you believe there’s nothing you can do to make it OK, it’s not too late to make other plans.