Thanksgiving is a time for visiting with family and friends. It’s the only time you get to have mashed potatoes and stuffing at one meal, and your Aunt Molly’s flan. And no one gives you the side-eye when you go for thirds, because they are carrying their third plate, too.
But Thanksgiving with the family can also be a stressful time. You’re bound to see your conservative first cousin who doesn’t approve of your relationship with your girlfriend or your sister, who still owes you money. And your mom seems to be continually questioning your choices and rearranging the table.
Because though joyful, holidays and family can also be stressful, here are some tips for keeping things as peaceful as possible.
1) Avoid Talking about Sensitive Subjects
Stay away from sensitive subjects. You don’t have to say anything if someone says something you disagree with. They probably know already. Stay calm, state your views respectfully if pressed, and disengage from the conversation if you feel yourself getting worked up. Distract yourself by helping in the kitchen or talking to someone else.
2) Arm Yourself with a Few Conversation Starters
Often family conversations revolve about how the kids are doing and any significant changes that took place during the year. That’s fine. But how about dropping a few conversation starters that will spark some interest for everyone. For example, ask your aunt if she’s heard any interesting podcasts lately. Ask your grandmother the origin of your favorite Thanksgiving recipe. These questions can start conversations everyone will want to be a part of.
3) Simplify the Holiday
Thanksgiving often seems like a day of preparation for about ten minutes of eating. By the time the meal is served, everyone is tired and hungry, and some may be borderline hangry. Try to make the holiday as simple as possible. If you are hosting, let people bring their favorite dish. Don’t get too attached to it not being done “your way.” If you are a guest, check with your hostess to see what they need. Often they will be happy to have you take something off their plate.
4) Do Your Best to Keep the Peace
You may have longstanding disagreements with some family members. This year resolve to let them go, just for the day. You don’t need to spend the holiday trying to change someone’s mind about whatever. Ignore negative comments and taunts.
It’s not easy to let unfair or hurtful comments go unchallenged, but if you can swing it, you’ll be the one who is free from the emotions these comments can bring up. If you must, disagree respectfully, try to listen, and turn the conversation to a different topic.
5) Remember to Be thankful
Remember the spirit of the holiday, and try to focus on what you are grateful for this year. Including your family. No family agrees on everything; they all have that one member who is much more liberal or more conservative.
But, they are family. If any discussions get out of hand, remember that your relationships are deeper than any disagreement. By doing this, you’ll be happier, and you’ll have a joyful, more peaceful holiday.
Thanksgiving with your family can be GR8 when you follow these tips. I promise.