Greetings everyone!

Here in the states, this Thursday is Thanksgiving. It is a time for families to get together, eat traditional family meals and celebrate what they are thankful for.

Now, we all have our ideas of how we WISH the holiday would be which contrasts (for some rather sharply) with how the holiday actually plays out.

The fantasy : Everyone gathers at grandmas house which is an old Victorian farm house. Located somewhere in the country. The weather is crisp and sunny with just the perfect soft breeze.
The house has been beautifully decorated with gorgeous leaves and pumpkins that the children gathered earlier in the day.
Everyone is dressed up in their Sunday best.
The children run and play together filled with joy and laughter. They all get all very easily and comfortably.
The generations gather together in front of the fire to enjoy conversation. Everyone is so excited to see each other…and to hear how lives are fairing.
It is a loving supportive mood.
The meal is a group creation, everyone doing their part with a smile and a wink.
As everyone gathers round the Thanksgiving feast, Grandpa leads a prayer of Thanksgiving…when he concludes everyone smiles and feels a warm sense of appreciation towards everyone at the table.
People enjoy the meal. No one is worried about calories. No one is noticing who ate what.

This is a wonderful homecoming for all.
As the evening comes to a close there is a sense of peace and contentment. It is so good to get together with family. They all look forward to seeing each other at Christmas.

The All To Often Reality: The holiday is held at grandmas house which is an old Victorian farm house. Located somewhere in the country. The weather is crisp and sunny. But since it poured all last night there is mud everywhere.
The kids were gonna gather pumpkins and leaves for decorations, but found playing in the mud way too much fun to pass up.
Everyone is in their Sunday best…but little Billy pushed little Mary into the mud and now she is crying and her dress is all ruined.
Mom forgot to bring a change of clothes.
The children have split up into two gangs…the boys verses the girls. So far only two kids have been hurt but little Mary won’t stop crying over her muddy dress.
Oh, she just slugged little Billy!
The generations gather around the fire. Uncle Fred is already drunk and Aunt Elma is on her way. Grandma is fussin’ with her daughter about her daughters choice of clothing. Grandpa is yelling at the TV…something about football. There is a tension between some and others seem in their own worlds.
By the time dinner is served, many are drunk, Grandma and her daughter are clearly in a fight, kids are cranky…but as folks start diggin’ in things settle down…just a bit!

As the evening comes to a close, some take stock of the fresh wounds…or the old wound reopened. Its such a relief to be done with that!

For many people Thanksgiving is very stressful. They may not feel free to choose the holiday that they wish. They have family obligations which are difficult to get out of. They have families that are difficult to be with. If this is you…there are some things that you can do to soften the emotional load.

Here are 12 tips for surviving a sucky family holiday!

1. Recognize that you have a choice. Either you can choose to skip this year or not. It is sorta like choosing the least of 2 evils. Either you can get harassed in person or have everyone harass you because you were too selfish to not show up. Damned if ya do…damned if ya don’t. But either way…it is still a choice.

2. Keep your friends close and your enemies far…far away …preferably drunk and watching football while you enjoy a fun game of tag outside with all of the kids.
Note: Hanging out with kids is usually a much better time then being fussed at by your mother because you NEVER call her!

3. Embrace denial!! Yes folks you read it right! If Aunt Elma is talking about how wonderful everyone is…while drinking her 3rd martini…go and have a sit with her. She has a great spin on the family. She never talks bad about you…at least not to your face. She is lots of fun even if she is a bit tipsy!

4. Get tipsy! Yes folks, you read that right! You and Aunt Elma can be in Denial and Tipsy together…are we having fun yet?

5. Let go of the need to be seen. Because let’s face it…they didn’t know ya last year or the year before…or the year before…chances are they ain’t gonna know ya now!

6. Lie Lie Lie. Yep, like a snake in the grass. When your mother corners you and asks why you won’t visit more often…This is not the time to "speak your truth." Just think of something nice to say:
"Oh mom, my work has been so busy and the baby has been sick….love your apron..where did you get that?"
Hopefully, this will change the direction of the conversation. If this doesn’t work you can always tell her that Aunt Elma is drunk again.

7. Flattery gets you everywhere. Being both courteous and flattering can really ease the tension. Saying "Please" and "Thank you" when appropriate tends to settle folks down. Making sure to greet everyone as they enter the house. Employing a liberal use of "you look so pretty!" or "Love your tie!"

8. Find your happy place. Finding some way to retreat and remember that this is not your real life. Remind yourself that soon you get to leave …and won’t it be nice to be back home!
There’s no place like home….
There’s no place like home…
There’s no place like home…
*Clicking heels together is optional depending on what kinda shoes ya got on!

9. Take pictures. Become the photo journalist of this blessed event. You can out of many difficult conversations by saying "Oh, look how cute Billy looks. I just have to get a picture of that!" And off you go!

10. If ya can’t beat em…bore em! Yes that’s right…start talking in a monotone voice about your stamp collection or the task-y details of your job.
"Ya know I have been filing lots of papers lately at work, and there are three types of filing systems that I like to use. They work so efficiently! The first one I use is…." (Snore)

11. Use direct sarcasm! Some of us have the embarrassing or inappropriate relative…you the know the one I am talking about! The one who has the racist remarks or tells creepy sex jokes, or talks about your body…(shudder). This is a tough one because sometimes you might find yourself trapped in a corner or sitting down on a couch with no way to get up and escape.

Here is a strategy that is very direct:
"You know Uncle Fred, that’s a pretty racist comment! What the hell is the matter with you?"

If you want to make it a little lighter you can try sarcastic humor:
"Oh Uncle Louie, so you really thought it was ok to comment on my weight?" and then laugh. Possibly even pat his arm condescendingly!
After this you might want to get the hell out of there and pursue tip 4.

12. Use the family gathering as material! Use some of the crazy and psycho anecdotes as conversation starters with friends.
"You will never guess what my mother said to me!"
Or you can use your families shenanigans for blog entries the very next day. At least you’ll get some interesting material out of the experience!

I know that I am being a bit tongue and cheek here…
my intention is to lightened a difficult situation that some of you experience during the holidays. I have used these myself in years past…with some mixed results! But it felt good to have something to play with!

For all of you though, stay centered and in peace. Find the things in your life that you are thankful for and focus as much as you can on that. Know that when folks say icky things to you or about you…or say icky things about someone else…those things tell you about them and the way they see the world.

And if by the end of the night, something has newly wounded you or an old wound was reopened…surround yourself with those folks who unconditionally love you and allow that unconditional love to flow through you.

Peace to you~ and may you have a warm hearted Thanksgiving!

*Thanks ALix for helping me with this blog post!

2 Responses to “12 Tips For Surviving a Sucky Family Holiday! (this is not a politically correct post!)”

  1. Thanks for these great tips! Holidays can definitely be a challenge.

    My favorite strategy is to go and take a nap :)

  2. Oh Jenny…that’s a great one. Next year I will repeat the list and add take a nap…maybe that could be after #4…hmmmmmmmm

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