Wishing for a perfect Thanksgiving holiday?
Instead, I’m hoping for a satisfying weekend–one where I can laugh, catch up with loved ones, play a few games, and eat yummy food.
Here’s a few suggestions to help your Thanksgiving weekend be more satisfying and less stressful.
- Start by remembering why we celebrate Thanksgiving. Our families aren’t perfect, but we are still richly blessed with so much. Consider the abundance of food as you prepare the meal. Give thanks for the health, jobs, and talents of every member of your family. Appreciate the modern conveniences that make gathering family from near and far in a warm house with hot food and cold drinks possible. An attitude of gratitude will go a long way towards helping you remain positive.
- Imagine what your most-satisfying-in-all-ways Thanksgiving Day would look like. (I did not say perfect, or photo-worthy, or idealized. This is about what matters to you and your family. What will bring happiness instead of frustration to those you live?) Consider the whole day and all the people you want to spend time with. What do you love most? What stresses you out? What could you happily live without? What do you hope to avoid?
- Look at your answers. What are they telling you? Is it important to try the latest recipes, or do people honestly not care that much, so long as there is food and lots of it? Do you love doing fancy centerpieces, or do they always seem to turn out like a top entry in the Pinterest Fails Holiday contest? If you yearn to spend time catching up with your sister, figure out how to make that happen! Even if it means leaving the dishes unwashed or deciding to use the everyday tableware so it can be run through the dishwasher. Quit doing things that don’t matter, so you can do more of the things that do.
- Divide and conquer. Find ways to split up the work so one person doesn’t have the whole burden. This might mean entrusting part of the menu to your sister-who-never-follows-recipes or allowing the kids to set the table with less-than-perfect precision. So what if the forks are on the wrong side, or the sweet potato casserole isn’t as good as Mom’s. The day is about people, not perfection. Give everyone a part, and then choose to be thankful rather than critical of their efforts.
- Agree not to discuss politics. Enough said. Just to be safe, think up a few topics to redirect the conversation if needed: Solicit predictions on bowl games, ask about Black Friday strategies, or (in dire emergencies) pretend to spill your wine.
- Take captive every smart phone and render them mute and inaccessible. At least during dinner. Better yet, for the entire afternoon. Unless you consider updating your Facebook or checking email more important than spending time with family members, put the darn things away! Really. (If Skype or Facetime is part of the agenda, fine, but afterwards turn it off and put it away.)
- Forget the calories. This is not the day to worry about cholesterol or trans fats or carbs. Instead, give yourself permission to savor each mouthful of foods you love. Don’t just shovel it in. Slow down and enjoy it. And don’t forget to compliment the cooks!
- Don’t forget to plan some fun. A holiday is more than eating. Make sure someone brings toys or games for family of all ages. Send the kids outside to play football or take a walk to the park. (Remember a change of clothes.) Get out the party games. Instead of an Easter egg hunt, create a gourd hunt, or a candy corn hunt. If watching football is your bag, why not get everyone to fill out their predictions?
- Remain thankful the rest of the weekend. Black Friday shopping? Putting up Christmas decorations? Packing for hunting camp? Raking the leaves that finally decided to fall? Driving kids back to college? Whatever the rest of your weekend looks like, begin each activity with a grateful heart and choose to be generous with kind words and patience.
- Savor the memories. Don’t get so caught up in the holiday whirl that you immediately forget the good moments you had. Spend some time journaling, or laughing at candid photos, or reminiscing over the highlights with a loved one. And determine to make more of those kind of memories in the days ahead.