Thanksgiving is supposed to be a holiday based around tradition and camaraderie. It is supposed to be a time when family can gather together, reflect on the year, and remember what they are truly thankful for. It’s supposed to be a time when family can come from near and far to eat and drink together; where new loved ones are introduced and embraced as one of the group. While some families can come together in harmony, others may experience holidays like Thanksgiving as a nightmare, full of family drama, political arguments, drunken relatives, and other mishaps that foster unhappiness instead of joy.
If you have a particularly challenging family, planning, hosting, or even attending Thanksgiving can be stressful. The good news is that just because family gatherings have been dysfunctional in the past does not mean that they always have to unfold like that. If you are finding yourself apprehensive about Thanksgiving this year, there are a few small things you can do to make a difference.
It’s no secret that family members have their quirks and these eccentricities are often especially prominent during the holidays. You might have a tactless grandfather who says inappropriate things at the table, an uncle who seems to get over-served during cocktail hour at every family event, or an in-law who butts heads with everyone. Just because this drama exists, it does not have to ruin the party. In fact, the very first Thanksgiving was a gathering of pilgrims and Native Americans who were not related or even friendly toward one another. Tensions were high, even hostile between the two groups. However, the Native Americans helped the pilgrims build shelter and taught them how to grow crops and hunt. The first harvest was hugely successful and a celebration was in order. The two groups had great differences in almost every aspect of life, but the common theme of survival was enough to overcome these differences and create a Thanksgiving tradition that is still ripe today. So this holiday season, instead of harping on the differences that are tearing the family dynamic apart, reflect on all that your family has overcome in the last year.
All of the quirks your family members possess did not suddenly appear overnight. It should not be news to you that your sister-in-law must be the center of attention or that your nephew cries every year when he doesn’t get what he wants. It should not be a surprise that your uncle is a back seat driver when it comes to preparing Thanksgiving dishes or that your grandma is notorious for saying inappropriate things. This year, instead of just hoping that these awkward moments do not occur, make an effort to avoid them. Here are some tips on how to accomplish this feat:
No matter what unfolds this year at Thanksgiving or how crazy things get, remember that you are surrounded by family. No one wants to host or attend an unpleasant Thanksgiving. To avoid this, work together, create and cherish memories, and in the process teach your children the importance of togetherness.
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