Observing some basic Thanksgiving Do’s and Don’ts can not only get you through the day, but make you feel more thankful for your family and loved ones, no matter how crazy, dysfunctional or annoying they may be.
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To end things on a positive note, we’ll start with Thanksgiving Don’ts.
Don’t argue: When families get together, old wounds can be exposed and fresh ones inflicted. But tell yourself ahead of time that you are just not going to go there. If others start to argue, try your best to diffuse the situation with humor and kindness and if that doesn’t work, just stay clear of the flying plates.
Don’t take the bait: You know that family member who always goads you into a fight or presses you about your personal life? Don’t humor her by engaging. When she asks when you’re ever going to get married or lose weight, just smile and walk away.
Don’t eat too much: Yeah, but it’s Thanksgiving, right? That doesn’t mean you have to eat to the point that you’re feeling guilty and uncomfortable. Take small portions on your plate and eat slowly, and only go back for seconds if you’re truly hungry. Ask to take home a doggie bag of leftovers so you can enjoy more stuffing and mashed potatoes when you’re really hungry.
Don’t drink too much: Family tensions + raw emotions + too much alcohol = a ruined Thanksgiving for everyone. Don’t be the family member who drinks too much and gets weepy, belligerent or otherwise sloppy. Leave that behavior for your oddball cousin Bob.
Save the day and your sanity with these Thanksgiving Do’s:
Do approach with kindness: That means everyone, even your impossible Zia Rita, who picks on your appearance, your career choice, or how terribly you’re raising your kids. One day she won’t be there anymore and believe it or not, you’ll miss her when she’s gone. Let her comments roll off your shoulders, and offer to get her another slice of pie.
Do be a source of love and light: Hug your family members, ask how they’re doing and listen to their responses, play with the little kids, help the old folks take off their coats and push their chairs under the table. Be the model for how all your family should act. Some will follow suit, and almost all of them will remember your good cheer and thoughtfulness.
Do organize the clean-up party: Make sure everyone helps with clean-up and that a few people don’t get stuck doing all the work. The guys don’t get a free pass to go watch the game while the women all do dishes! Playfully ask them—shame them if you must!—to pitch in, even if it’s just for five minutes. A few minutes help from every guest will make clean-up go a lot faster.
Do treasure the moment: As our lives change, we live farther from our loved ones and older generations pass on, family get-togethers are more and more rare and precious. Treasure this day with your loved ones, even the ones who may be hard to love. One day, you’ll be the older generation watching nieces, nephews and maybe even grandchildren take over the reins for Thanksgiving. Life is short and sweet, and so is Thanksgiving Day. Savor every moment.