Thanksgiving is easily romanticized a month before hand. It will be fun, with beautiful food, people you care about and loving moments to remember and cherish. So you may have said you would host this year, or provide a dish, or even drive up to your aunt’s house to enjoy the holiday with her family.
As Thanksgiving starts to get closer you start to recall last years Thanksgiving vividly. Someone brought a new significant other who was vegan, and critiqued all the food. Maybe a friend commented on the dessert, you brought, saying they could have made it so much better. Or the drive to and from your aunt’s house was the biggest drain on the day.
I have had thanksgivings with friends, immediate family, extending family, and by myself. Thanksgiving can be amazing and provide lots of joy and nourishment. Spending it alone is always an option, that is okay. But if you do choose to spend it with others and are hoping it will be a little less stressful and little more joyful, here are a few tips.
Abandon Perfection This Thanksgiving
As a baker and a cook I know this from experience. We want our food to be hand made (by our hands), from scratch, and come out perfect. Sometimes it doesn’t, sometimes it has to be store-bought, and sometimes other hands are needed. If you host, please do it potluck style. If you want to cook always prepare yourself for last minute accidents, burnt crusts, and forgotten ingredients that have now run out at the store. Also, cooking with a glass of wine in hand never hurt.
You can’t control the guests that are brought to Thanksgiving. Know that there may be people that get uncomfortable (you being one of them), throw dramatic fits, or bring up politics when everyone wants to just laugh. Its okay to make your wants or dislikes known - no politics while at the table, only compliments about the food and please don’t drink ALL the wine. No dinner with people you love ever goes perfect. Often enough it goes hilariously wrong. Embrace it. Laugh. Move on.
Focus on the People This Thanksgiving
Have fun with people you care about. Don’t worry to much about the order the food comes out or the dishes matching the napkins. Enjoy the company you are around and it will be an amazing Thanksgiving. Not every dietary need will be met for ever dish. But if you make the rounds and are able to have a meaningful conversation you will leave and have your guests leave Thanksgiving with a full cup of love, even if their bellies aren’t. That’s okay! You came together for the company.
Thanksgiving is about the relationships NOT the food. You are grateful for these people. So, talk, laugh and love on them and with them.
Ask For Help
Thanksgiving can feel like a lot of food, people and logistics. You do NOT have to do it alone. You can ask for someone to plan while you host. Assign duties to attending guests. Get recipes from friends and also buy pre-made food, you are in charge of making. If driving 4 hours to your aunts is the major sour part of Thanksgiving, try a bus, or train. Brainstorm to see if you can’t stay with your aunt for the weekend or staying home is just going to be better for you.
This is to be a positive time with people you love. If you don’t get support or feel that people are already getting carried away. you do what you need to do for you. If you are hosting maybe you say no plus 1s. If you are going to a Thanksgiving dinner, but the mood turns sour say something. Know that you can exit uncomfortable conversations and get togethers. Who ever the host is, be kind and grateful there is a lot of energy, time, and money spent on making Thanksgiving enjoyable for everyone. Know you get to choose your experience.
Choose well and remember to enjoy this time of year. Enjoy your loved ones. Happy Thanksgiving.