Thanksgiving feature

My Thanksgiving Weekend “Don’t” List

Crosspost Featured Holidays

I’m always writing about my mixed feelings towards the Thanksgiving season, and I still get a little stressed out over everything from the impending holiday and Christmas season to the simple act of setting a table.

I see articles and videos of people telling us what they do the make their Thanksgiving weekend less stressful and more peaceful. For me,  I discovered it is the things I try not to do that work better. Five things in particular.

First, I have to give a big disclaimer before I begin: I am not telling anyone what to do and what not to do. I am only sharing what works for me. Your situation, family, and needs are obviously unique to you. Maybe, however, one or two of these things may be inspiring or relatable. No judgment.

Okay, here I go, into my personal Thanksgiving Week “Don’ts”:

I don’t stay in the house all day.

Whether you are doing just a small family dinner or having several people over, it can get really claustrophobic on fall days to stay in the kitchen or dining area. If you have a small family event, take a walk or drive after dinner if you can, or grab the family and see a movie. Theatres are open on Thanksgiving, and often seasonal films are showing.

I don’t go to the Black Friday sales.

Seriously, who needs that? Most Black Friday items aren’t something I need for gifts anyway. My kind of chaos is music and art fests or comic cons… not crowding in store aisles. If we get the yen to go out, we go to cool little local shops or low-key bookstores to give them some business while the rest of the crowds climb the electronics sales.

I don’t serve alcohol during the dinner.

I’m not a big drinker, but I don’t care if others enjoy wine or beer with their meals. That is totally fine. However, during Thanksgiving meals, we always joke about everything from passive-aggressive comments from in-laws to political fighting. You will always have to be around people once in a while who don’t agree with you on something. It isn’t always politics, either. There is always that one older relative who likes to remind you of some personal slip-up you made years ago every time they see you. Many people, no matter who they are, can be civil when they need to until they have one or two glasses of “tongue-loosening elixir.” At least that’s what I’ve witnessed on occasion. Have some good old tea or water with the meal. Later, the grown-ups can enjoy a nightcap away from the dinner table where these kinds of conversations won’t happen in a round table discussion.

Thanksgiving post its
It is awkward enough for some people to make small talk at Thanksgiving dinner, much less give a prepared statement to a crowd. Try having guests write what they want on some sticky notes. Images: Lisa Tate

I don’t force my kids to “Say what they are thankful for.”

I am a Christian, but I even know nonreligious friends who think this practice is a good way to teach their kids gratitude. No matter your beliefs, most kids and many adults don’t like to be singled out to give a presentation on their day off. It always makes me uncomfortable. If you feel this is a tradition you don’t want to give up, simply place some markers and sticky notes by the entranceway and let everyone who chooses to write down their responses… anonymously… and stick them to the wall or door. You will get some more honest answers this way, I promise. Plus, some answers can be pretty funny.

I don’t repeat Thanksgiving dinner at Christmas.

I’m going to be honest. I don’t really like the standard Thanksgiving fare. It’s colorless and bland. My husband loves it. My daughters love it. I can eat it, but it is not something I want again during the December holiday season. Yet, my own mom used to repeat the Thanksgiving meal on a red tablecloth every December 25. I make a point to go in a different direction. We enjoy London broil, but I have a cousin who just does a different fun meal every year. Last year, they did Christmas enchiladas. There are no rules for holiday meals unless you are following a religious tradition! Otherwise, enjoy what you want as long as you have fun.

For what it’s worth, this is how I keep halfway calm during the madness of Thanksgiving week, and if these work for you, fantastic. If not, thank you for reading my little thoughts.

However, there is something I will tell you not to do. Don’t be downhearted or feel overwhelmed this season. There are those who love you and want to see you happy.

Be at peace this time of year. I love you all.

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