Here's my Thanksgiving pep talk for this year. Hope you'll take some comfort from it, if you're nervous, stressing, or feeling overwhelmed this Thanksgiving morning!
We can do this!
We're lucky to have family and friends to spend time with (even if they drive us crazy) and fortunate to have food to eat at our feasts today. We have good friends who may be delighted to spend time with us later this weekend. They'll celebrate with us and listen to our stories about our more colorful relatives and their antics today.
Let's not stress ourselves worrying about how our Thanksgivings will go. Whether we're traveling, hosting, or spending the holiday at someone else's house, let's try to have the best day possible. We can let the stressful parts roll off of us gently, and laugh about them later.
Nothing has to be perfect today.
Thanksgiving is about being with family and friends. If you undercook or overcook the turkey, that's ok - people will happily eat your mashed potatoes and stuffing instead. If old rude Uncle Bill starts in on you about politics, that's ok, you knew he would. Sigh inwardly and try to change the subject. Your tablecloth is stained or a bit ratty? Who cares - it was put on the table fresh and clean, right? The furniture your relatives are sitting on has cat-scratch marks on it? Oh well, it means you have pets you love. Stains on your apron or clothing from cooking? Good, that means you worked hard to make something nice for your family. June Cleaver isn't here in her pearls and heels and immaculate freshly starched dress.
If something spills, wipe it up with a smile. Laugh if something breaks. If someone cries, hand them a tissue, and give them a hug. If that person is you, have your cry for a couple minutes but don't let it ruin your day, and don't let yourself contribute to or escalate family drama.
There are some things that will never change. There are some things we can't control. No, our houses will never be as clean as our mother-in-laws' homes. I won't be able to cook food anywhere near as delicious as my boyfriend's Swedish mother does. We will likely never have a nicer car or as big a house as our brother-and-sister in law do. We're good cooks, but there's always an Aunt Edna or a Grandmother known for being the best cook ever. That's ok, let them enjoy that title. We still still make our own delicious food.
It's all going to be ok. We can do this.
We'll take care of ourselves first this morning. One thing that helps a lot is having some quiet alone time today, even if it's just for a few brief minutes. Try to do something relaxing in the morning (Read a few pages in your book? Browse a magazine? Go for a quick walk? Play a quick Facebook game?) to de-stress before the stress even starts. Give yourself permission to take time for yourself, so you can give more of yourself as the holiday begins.
Delegate! Thanksgiving is not all about you, and you can't and shouldn't be the Queen of Thanksgiving. If someone offers to help, let them. If someone offers to bring a dish, let them. (Worried Aunt Edie will bring her nasty sugary marshmallow yams? That's ok, let her and be grateful she's not bringing her mushy overcooked cold mashed potatoes).
One of the things I usually do every year to emotionally survive the holiday is this: I throw a special after-Thanksgiving casual movie night on Saturday night for any friends who are still in town. I'll clean up my house a bit, but not stress over it. We'll wear comfy sweats or pajamas, eat leftovers or fresh fruits and veggies, and watch fun movies while relaxing. Friends are the family you choose, and I choose to be around happy, fun, easygoing people on my four-day weekend. This year I'm going to a Friendsgiving instead of being around family, so I might not need to throw a de-stress party. Still, there are some friends returning from stressful holiday travel who might need to be cheered up and tell stories to a sympathetic listener.
Now for a special note to anybody reading this who might be spending their Thanksgiving alone. It's ok, it happens to all of us. Not everybody has family close by, or the ability to travel. Sometimes we get sick right before Thanksgiving and choose not to share our germs with loved ones. Sometimes people have to work on Thanksgiving or the day after. On more than one Thanksgiving in years past, I absolutely couldn't face the whole thing and voluntarily stayed home alone. I truly did have a good time. Instead of sitting there feeling sorry for yourself for being alone, think of all of your friends who are stuck in airports and freezing cold in winter snowstorms! Make yourself a special delicious treat to eat, watch a movie or put on your favorite music. Enjoy your relaxing alone time. If you are feeling a bit blue, skip the alcohol and have hot cocoa instead.
A special challenge:
Try to be there "in the moment" during the entirety of your Thanksgiving meal, plus during the preparation before it and recovery after it. What do I mean by this? Put your phone down. Don't spend your time texting your friends; don't spend all day on your cell phone talking to people who aren't there in person. (Call a few relatives to wish them a happy Thanksgiving, sure, but keep your calls brief so you can pay attention to the people directly in the room with you). You can talk to your friends and text them all day long some other time. Thanksgiving is supposed to be about reconnecting with family who you don't see often. Give them respect by giving them your full attention. Unless you're an emergency room doctor, there really isn't a reason for your cell phone to be at the table or even in the room with you on Thanksgiving.
This is obviously quite a pet peeve of mine. I implore you to try, if you can, to spend quality time (not texting time) with the people who took time out of their busy lives to spend today in person with you, celebrating with you face to face. Your text buddies will be there tomorrow and always.
Best wishes for a happy Thanksgiving for you!