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Nov 25, 201312:06 PMOpen Mic

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6 highly effective strategies for the best Thanksgiving ever

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Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. A feast of turkey and fixings and getting together with family — it’s like Christmas without the presents, and that’s the best part! No frantic treks to the mall to find meaningful gifts for loved ones. No schlepping around bags of presents, hoping you didn’t forget anyone. For me, it’s all about food, family, and celebration, so the pressure is off.

But some people find that the holidays are stressful or never quite live up to expectations. Family gatherings can bring long-simmering tensions to the surface, and instead of Norman Rockwell you get Norman Lear (All in the Family for those of us old enough to remember). So here are a few tips for creating your best Thanksgiving ever:

Relax: Focus on what’s important, not the sweet potatoes. Don’t sweat the small stuff. No one cares if the gravy isn’t at chef-grade viscosity. One of my favorite holiday memories — one my family still gets a chuckle out of — is the year I was helping my mom make the gravy, and instead of adding corn starch as directed, I added baking soda. Voilà, a volcano-like eruption ensued on the stove and I was banned from gravy patrol for a year.

Pitch in: Wherever you are, help out your hosts. Preparing a Thanksgiving dinner is a big undertaking, especially for larger families. Be attuned to the needs of your hosts, especially right before and after the meal. Pitch in with the cleanup; the sooner you get done, the sooner the pumpkin pies come out. Offer to bring something to contribute to the feast.

Engage: Get beyond the superficial and truly take an interest in people’s lives. One of the things I love about the holidays is that it’s a chance to talk to people in person. My family is more than three hours away, so these are great opportunities to reconnect. If you have elderly family members, go out of your way to talk to them. A lot of older people have trouble hearing, or have difficulty talking in a room crowded with people and children. Take them to a quieter room and talk to them. You will be surprised what you can learn. 


Nov 27, 2013 06:57 am
 Posted by  Anonymous

A lot of terrific ideas - and I love that you include Dysfunctional Family Bingo - you acknowledge that not all families are picture-perfect. In fact, I think I'll award myself points for not reacting to any of the items on the Bingo sheet, and continue with the clean-up, face-to-face socializing with the relatives I enjoy, and be thankful for many things, not the least of which is the break from the day-to-day routine. Happy Thanksgiving.

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