Thanksgiving. It’s a time of tradition for many families. A time for food, family, fun, and remembering all we are thankful for in the past year. Many families appreciate this holiday for the sense of family tradition that is involved. But for some people, particularly those who may come from a divorced family background, are recently divorced, or are trying to survive in a blended family situation, the only thing that appears to be “traditional” is the stress involved in trying to please everyone, and failing miserably every time.
Imagine being newly married and both extended families are expecting that their own family traditions and parties will be the one the couple chooses to attend. Throw in the fact that one spouse or the other comes from a divorced family background which adds another household invitation to the mix of holiday gatherings. Now if either or both spouses in this new marriage have children from a previous relationship, that only adds to the stress of trying to be everywhere, do everything and make everybody happy.
And that can leave even the most compromising of families feeling anything but thankful.
So what is a family trying to blend traditions to do?
Recognize that there is No Way to Please Everyone. Someone’s feelings will be hurt. Whether it is grandma who expected you to show up to her house like you have for years in the past, or a step-child who doesn’t want to make any changes to what they have always known to be tradition.
Plan Ahead. As a new couple, decide in advance what you each would like to do this year for Thanksgiving. Will you go to one family’s house this year, and the other for the next year? Will you host your own Thanksgiving dinner? Figure these details out in advance so when Aunt Sue calls you up, you will know what to say right away.
Bend if You Can. If it is important to you to see everyone this holiday, see if you can have dinner in one place and dessert at another. Or plan on having dinner on two different days.
Start Something New: Sometimes there is such a thing as too much of a good thing. Instead of having several Thanksgiving feasts in a row, have a traditional thanksgiving dinner on the actual holiday itself, and create a new holiday tradition the weekend after Thanksgiving. Invite friends and family over for a tree decorating party, or perhaps a “turkey-soup-Sunday” where leftovers and pie are served.
Tradition in the midst of change is hard; especially during a time of year where holiday memories tend to be about tradition. If you find yourself drowning in the stress of the season because of this, take heart and know that even if you aren’t doing the same thing as you always have done in the past, the spirit of the season, thanksgiving, can and should be the heart of your holiday.