If you're blessed with a chill family that just wants to eat and take naps, this blog post is not for you. If there’s a little piece of you that’s dreading sitting across from Uncle Mike as he chews with his mouth open in between marginally racist comments, I’ve got some tips for you.
There’s something about scheduled “togetherness” that brings out the “together mess” in families. From old sibling rivalry to polarizing topics, it’s a challenge to keep your composure and not want to stick your head in the turkey. Before you walk in the door, please read this post.
1) How do you want to feel when your saying goodbye to your last relative? You are only in control of you. You get to choose how you respond, think and react. If you want to feel right, you may feel that way, but you probably will be exhausted and not very happy with the exchange. If you want to be at peace, think about where you can acknowledge and validate someone without opening up a can-of-debate worms.
2) Find yourself a friendly ally. If you have a cousin or sibling who helps you stay positive, sit next to them or pick up a charcuterie board with them in the kitchen to get away from any negative spewing.
3) Meet people where they are. If you know someone is stressed about money, it’s probably not going to make them feel very good if you’re bragging about your new car or expensive shoes. Have a new relationship? Wait to be asked about it. This doesn’t mean you can’t share your good news, but not everyone is in a place to see it as anything beyond self-absorption.
4) Ask people about more than the weather. Want to know how people are? Don’t ask them how they are. Try something like “what’s the most exciting thing that’s happened since I saw you last?” Also don’t rely on Facebook as giving you an accurate update, most people are only showing you their highlight reel.
5) Be of service. The best way to stay out of trouble, is to keep your hands busy. Help to set the table, take out the trash, cook a side dish, take care of the gaggle of kids. By being helpful, your ears won’t be sitting ducks for negativity dumping.
6) Don’t drink. (GASP!) I know It’s a crazy concept, but think about how many family battles have emerged because someone was overly sensitive or rude from too many glasses of wine. Someone needs a clear head to disengage and the best way to make quick decisions is to avoid impairment from alcohol.
7) Have an exit strategy. If you’re feeling uncomfortable or super triggered, it’s ok to leave, but make sure you have a plan before you get there. You may want to visit a childhood friend or go for a walk. Whatever you need to do to take care of you in the moment, go for it.
I hope you don’t need a strategy and everything is awesome a wonderful, but in the event something goes array, you are now prepared with seven options. Happy Thanksgiving!