We see movies of loving families having sentimental moments as they eat dinner and touching reunions, but the truth is many times Thanksgiving can be stressful and we might feel glad when it’s over. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Here are some suggestions that have helped me in the past.
1. Expectations- We might have an expectation that because it;s Thanksgiving the family will magically turn into the Huxtables who were on the Bill Cosby Show. We dream of a joyful visit, wonderful food, and much laughter. In some families that may be reality, however, in many families that probably isn’t the case. How our family is the rest of the year will probably be the way they will be on Thanksgiving. The person who drinks too much and becomes obnoxious will most likely drink again. The person who is critical won’t change and the two or three people who never get along may have the same challenge. Knowing this- we can approach the day with a plan on how we are going to react and enjoy the loving moments and encourage them.
2. Attitude- We might not be able to change the situation but we do have control of our attitude. If we go to Thanksgiving with the attitude of just trying to get through it and dreading being with the family we will probably have an awful time. If we focus on the positive aspects and attempt to bring out the caring nature of the family it could actually be fun. In our family when we start dinner we each say what we are thankful for and what we appreciate about the person the next to us. At first they were shy about expressing these feelings but now it’s a welcome tradition.
3. Don’t over due on alcohol- Some of the biggest disasters during Thanksgiving are due to people being drunk and doing and saying things they were never do if they were sober. Have a glass of wine if you like, but don’t have two, three, or four. What might happen after you are drunk may affect your life forever.
4. Have fun! – Think of something your family has in common. For instance they might like to play games or sports. This can make an enjoyable day and something children will remember when they become older. This can also be a tradition.
5. Tell your family how much you love them- Many times we assume our family knows we love them- challenges and all- and so we never tell them. That might just be what the person who is critical needs to hear. We don’t know how long we will have each person in our family. Illness and accidents can take them from us in an instant. Now is the time to show your love!
Most of all- have fun and realize that many people don’t have a family on Thanksgiving. We are so blessed.