Don’t let THIS spoil your Thanksgiving Dinner

If there’s one thing that can spoil Thanksgiving Day, it’s a bad turkey. Come to think of it, there are a few more things that can spoil TD that have nothing to do with food. Let me explain. Thanksgiving Day is a national holiday where families across America enjoy a traditional meal together, giving thanks for the blessings we enjoy in our free country. While this may be the intent when we gather around the table, there are no guarantees it will go well. Stuff happens when families gather that can spoil the turkey. I’m not talking about the stuffing in the turkey. I mean the stuffing in the family! It’s the stuff inside people bring that can spoil the event. Here’s some stuff that can spoil Thanksgiving:
  • Heated conversation about the recent election!
  • Members who help themselves but don’t lift a finger to help out
  • Out-of-control alcohol consumption
  • Negative comments made by a parent you can never please
  • Not being on the same page with your spouse
Over the course of the past two weeks I have listened to sadness of some and jubilation of others impacted by the outcome of the recent presidential election. I am concerned that relationships are wounded over sentiments expressed. Amanda Berlin recently shared an article with me about a guy whose “best man” unfriended him on Facebook after he posted that he voted for the President-elect Trump!
Activate your spoiler alert system
I listed a few things above that can spoil a wonderful occasion. Perhaps you can think of others that pertain to your situation. The important thing is to activate your spoiler alert system and be prepared in advance. Here are some things you can do early in advance of Thanksgiving Day.
  1. Identify what you are anxious about as you approach the holidays.
  2. Talk to your spouse about your concerns.
  3. Have a “let’s get on the same page” conversation together.
Deal with your spoiler ahead of time
In a couples session last week, a couple discussed what to do if the topic of the election came up during Thanksgiving. They came up with a plan on what to do if the discussion got out of hand. Another couple discussed how they were going to deal with the issue of alcohol since it has become a problem in the marriage recently. Both conversations were productive and the couples feel more confident going into the holidays. Here are some tips on how to deal with your spoiler ahead of time:
  1. Make time to de-stress before Thanksgiving Day.
  2. Establish realistic expectations about the day and people who trigger you.
  3. Envision what you want the day to be like for you.
  4. Be clear on the boundaries you want to set around “spoilers”.
10 ways you can keep the day special for you
  1. Start the day with a positive mood. Listen to your favorite music, go for a walk, soak in the tub. Find what works for you and do it.
  2. Do not allow others to hijack you mood. Stay positive. Take deep breaths. You are the boss of your mood. Don’t give it away to a grumpy spouse or badgering kids!
  3. Do a mental rehearsal of how you want the day to be for you. Think about the people you want to connect with and the fun you imagine you’ll have with them!
  4. Do a check-in with your spouse before you gather with the family and later in the day so that you start and stay on the same page. Check-ins keep you focused together.
  5. Prepare how you will respectfully handle a situation when conversations about the election heat up. 
  6. Unclog your ears so that negative comments flow in one ear and out the other.
  7. Instead of complaining about the unhelpful relative, try politely asking him/her for help. “Uncle Joe, would you mind helping me clear the table? Afterward we can serve the pumpkin pie I know is your favorite!”
  8. Monitor your own alcohol consumption, not your spouses. This is not easy in marriages where one has an alcohol dependency, but do your best. Remember you cannot control others or manage their sobriety.
  9. Focus on people who don’t need fixing. Enjoy the company of people who bring out your smile.
  10. Make time to express thanksgiving for the blessings in your life. In my family we take turns around the table, expressing gratitude for one new blessing in the year.

Now it’s My Turn

This is normally where I challenge you with a call to action. Today I want to take a moment to say thank you to the loyal readers of this blog and followers of the All About We Podcast (see link above). It gives me much joy and fulfillment knowing what I deliver is making a difference in your marriage and family. I am moved by the kind words I receive on a regular basis from you. May you have a heartwarming Thanksgiving Day with your family and friends.