Monday, November 24, 2008

How not to kill your family on Thanksgiving

As the holidays roll around, the visits with family can be somewhat of a challenge. Fear not, I am here to help. Don't worry, I am a professional. If you follow the tips here, you will have a decent shot at having a good time and not killing your family.

Holiday get togethers have three areas ripe for contentious emotions. There is family, food and a place were all of the above are put together (confinement) for at least an hour. At this point, while you are mulling over each of these items, it is important to define what you are expecting from these events. Expectations are like psychic visions, they will tell you what the future holds. So please, tell yourself that you will have a good time. No matter what. And if you really believe this and really work at it--it will be the truth.

First, ask yourself, What are the challenges that I personally face here? Again, look at the three factors in the holiday dinner equation. The most prominent challenge for most of us is the actual family. We did not choose these people, these family, but yet there they are.

Ask yourself what bothers you most about your family. Does your Dad tell racist jokes? Does Aunt Peg pester you about not having kids? Does your brother bug you about your parole? Well, let them. When we interact with others there are two people involved. You and them. You can do nothing about them. Which is more important, you having a good time no matter what, or you helping them understand what idiots they are? You cannot have both.

And if you could sit with them, talk things over like adults, decide on a behavioral plan, then you wouldn't be reading this would you? Thus, when your Achilles' heel is being hammered upon, take a deep breath. You are in control of you and remember, you are going to have a good time no matter what. Let the racist jokes roll, let them go on and on about meat eating, let them, let them, let them. Who knows, once you stop taking the bait, perhaps they will stop casting the line?

Secondly, ask yourself about the food. Food is a big deal for most folks. There are all sorts of emotions tied to what is fed us and what we feed upon. If your family serves the food you like then YAY! Stop reading and go to number three. If no, then please, use this one day to divert your attention from it. At most houses, there will be a smorgasbord of food. Pick and choose what you like. Bring your own 'side dish' without briefing them ahead of time. Just act like you are being "helpful". Keep in mind that food is secondary to these gatherings. And again, you are going to have a good time no matter what.

Thirdly, ask yourself about confinement. Some of us are not really people people and don't like gatherings in the first place. Let alone with a group of people we have nothing in common with and don’t really like. If this applies to you, then plan on breaks. Plan on escaping to the rest room, to the porch, to the car. Plan on regular intervals when you can breathe. This is all part of how you are going to have a good time, no matter what.

Oh and a word about booze. Best not to tempt fate here. Booze loosens the tongue and impairs even the most sound social judgment. If you find that you must drink in order to survive the gathering, well, maybe you should rethink some things. So, in order to ensure that you will have a good time no matter what, pass on the old timey nogg. The exception to this is if you and your family has a decent shot at getting along after a few. If so, have at it responsibly.

The overarching issues in any holiday gathering are many. But, there is always a way to figure out how to best serve your needs. Please use the above tips to have a pleasant holiday gathering. And if you are prepared, and if you return to your central purpose—to have a good time—time and time again, you will.

But, if you can't bring yourself to even consider having a pleasant day, or to refrain from drinking that ole timey nogg, then stay the hell home. It's your life, you can do what ever you want.

Ok-now it is your turn. Share your tips for a good holiday dinner with the family.

7 Left a message at the beep:

Ole Blue The Heretic said...

Racist jokes are told by some, but my Mom usually tells them to shut up before I can.

Most seem uninterested in my life since I live far away, and just tell me nothing is going on with theirs.

Its usually quite and quick.

GeologyJoe said...

Good tips. I just had half a crew this past weekend and it drained the life outta me.

Ever read the celestine prophecy? its a new age-y but the best take away from it is that all interactions are a power struggle and the 4 methods/ categories people tend to fall into: intimidator, aloof, investigator and poor me. each category is a counter of another, each attempting to gain power from the other.

The trick is to identify a type and counter.

Kate said...

Hey great tips Mrs. Hall!

My tips:

Keep that smile going! Even if it kills ya. Fake it.

Clap and say "yeah!" after someone makes a comment. I know, it sounds silly, but after a while, it catches on and other people start doing it, and it can be funny.

Gotta keep the mood light.

I'm a big fan of the stepping out of the environment for a few minutes myself. A little cool down.

Happy Tday.


Holly Hall said...

Ole blue the heretic: Well, alright then, that does sound at least doable.

Geo-Joe: I haven't heard the of the celestine prophecy. What do you think the security guard and I would fall under in terms of power differentials?

Kate: Yay clapping! And yay welcome to my site! I hope you enjoyed your stay! Yay!



Anonymous said...

My husband seems to always avoid being the target, so I studied him last year and this is what I saw:
1. Frequent smoke breaks. (But, you shouldn't smoke, so just keep one in your hand and pretend.)
2. Keep eating. Food in mouth makes talking hard. Just nod & grin.
3. Utilize the TV, fake an interest in whatever football game is on with shouting, "Oh, man, what were you doing out there?" and alternatively, "Go! Go! Go!" (If you're not sure when to yell these things, just ask your uncle which team he is on and respond that it's your team too and then mimic what he does.)
4. Initiate no conversation. Remain neutral in all conversations you must endure.
5. Turkey coma.

For me, I like to watch National Lampoons Christmas Vacation with my sisters. Keeps everyone laughing and quiet for awhile. And it lightens the mood afterwards.

But I'm onboard with you, Mrs. Don't take the bait. Never take the bait.

Bruce said...

As a counter point to this, I will simply refence a blog I wrote about 2 years ago, regarding the Christmas Dinner from the HELL....enjoy!

Holly Hall said...

Cam: EXCELLENT SUGGESTIONS! Very nice, very nice!

Bruce: your story is not really a counter point, it is more of a situation where you need to just stay they hell home. Seriously, there really is no way this dinner could have gone any better. So sad. But hope you have better thanksgivings now!


Mrs. Hall

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