Pumpkin pie was good but not as good as last year. Once again, your sister had to take an important 30 minute call just in time for her turn to do the dishes. And really, does it have to be competitive football with five year olds?
You CAN say, “no, thanks” to family drama at Thanksgiving. Here are a couple pointers to consider while you look forward to the holiday:
- Lower your expectations. Don’t go into Thanksgiving hoping that everything will be perfect, that any longstanding family tensions will have disappeared, that there won’t be at least a few things that go wrong. If you lower your expectations, you will help yourself not to feel disappointed.
- Let the little things go. Yes, this is easier said than done. But if you try to shrug off old irritations you will have a better time during the holiday – and so will your family.
- Sticky issues? Change the subject. Just about every family has its sensitive topics that can easily escalate into battle or war. Keep an ear out for these (or if you are busy in the kitchen, assign a trustworthy relative to do this) and quietly but firmly change the subject. Black Friday or the wonderful smells coming from the kitchen are good neutral topics. If an argument continues to get out of hand, feel free to nip it in the bud by agreeing to disagree. And moving on.
- “No texting” zone. To make Thanksgiving truly a family gathering without outside distractions, have your teens (and the grownups too) turn off their cell phones, smartphones, tablets and whatever else. Communicate with each other, not with your electronic devices and whoever is at the other end. You could even put a basket by the door and ask everyone to deposit their electronics, to be retrieved after dinner.
- Niceness rules. So even if your nephew is riding his tricycle in the living room…and your daughter’s boyfriend doesn’t really seem to want to be there…and your sister’s turkey is really way too dry and why on earth did she buy that new couch that doesn’t match…focus on the positive instead of the critical. Being nice can go a long way toward creating a happy, festive family event. (And when your other sister keeps going on and on about the new couch, distract her by commenting on her new sweater or haircut. Everyone likes a compliment!)
- Take charge of your kitchen – and feel free to kick everyone else out. If mom has a better way to make better gravy, just thank her for her help and assign her a new job like playing cards with the grandkids or helping them learn how to set the table.
- Have fun with old traditions from your childhood - and create new ones. Work off all that great food with a family football game or a walk around the block. Pull out the Monopoly board (board games are a great way to occupy young and old alike). And remember, these are the people you love the most. Enjoy your time together.