How was your Thanksgiving? I have to say, somewhat to my concern for the opposite, the family gathering went pretty well. Historically, the challenge of hosting the meal and dealing with extended family dynamics has become, ahem, overwhelming. We’re talking three structured trips to the grocery store and putting on your Paula Deen and/or your best Martha Stewart, folks, and it’s not for the disorganized or feint of heart.
So how did it go for you? Was the holiday relaxing and fun for you? Or did you spend it drunk and angry? Did you work yourself in the kitchen and hosting until you were too tired and maybe resentful to enjoy yourself? If you did, fear not. I get it. I’ve alluded in the past to the fact that I have not always been known for being unflappable. So I’m pleased to say this year, for a delightful change, I emerged from Thanksgiving unscathed.
I did it! It wasn’t “perfect.” I allowed myself to forgo, for example, the use of crystal or china that requires hand washing. The centerpiece was a flock of pine cone turkeys made by my small children. The turkey was deep fried by someone else, and my pies were furnished by my chef, Albert Sons. I, for once, wrestled my perfectionism to the ground and good sense prevailed.
But if for whatever reason your Thanksgiving with the family wasn’t everything you wanted it to be, don’t give up on Christmas family gatherings yet! I’m here to share a few pearls you might utilize to make your Christmas family gathering one you won’t dread. These little maneuvers saved my holiday bacon:
Shut your pie hole. It’s always hilarious to watch your liberal cousin argue with your conservative uncle until their faces are purple, right? You’re not going to convince someone to change their views over the egg nog, folks. It’s not the time. Just be quiet for the holidays. You can fist fight at the next funeral or birthday party. It won’t kill you to take a minute off from being right for Christmas. Good guideline: if it’s about sex, religion, or politics? JUST DON’T.
Change the subject. It takes two to tango. You do not have to participate in the madness. “Why aren’t you married yet?” can become “My GOODNESS the Cowboys are so terrible this year” so easily. Ask something about them or their outfit. Chances are, they’re like me and would rather really talk about themselves anyway.
Lay off the egg nog. Alcohol does NOT relieve stress, especially. It is a depressant. It will not make anything more tolerable. Save it for the happy hour with your friends to describe the debacle your holiday was, when you can take a cab and escape.
Get a break. Take a walk, have your own car if you can, get a hotel if you can, stay with a friend instead of contentious relatives. Retire to your bedroom area early to read or meditate. Take an extra long shower. But there are clever ways to get some breathing room. When the topic turns somewhere that makes you queasy, take that bathroom break. My family thinks I have a bladder the size of a pea.
So I hope your Thanksgiving was all you wanted it to be and you were relaxed and at ease. But if it looked a little more Griswold-esque, I’m hoping the above wisdom helps salvage your Christmas or other holiday family gathering. Because as I always say, beware: the definition of a “dysfunctional family” is a family with more than one member in it.