Relative Survival: 3 Intangibles To Bring To Thanksgiving Dinner


Joyous! Most Of The Time, At Least...

I consider Thanksgiving to be the beginning of the family holiday season. Not only does it provide the opportunity to recount the many reasons to be thankful, but it also brings family together in a food-filled, joyous setting.

Joyous! Most of the time, at least.

I always thought that the myth of the crazy relative (in-law) would never apply to me. I was deeply mistaken, and truthfully didn’t see it coming. Often times as an outsider you don’t see the true colors of those around you. But once you’re in the family, they pull you right in.

Needless to say I’ve been witness to uncomfortable, and irrevocable drama during Thanksgiving. I'm not talking deep fried turkeys shooting into the neighbor's yard, but internal family strife, type drama.

Hooray, for me. A frozen flying turkey would be much more entertaining.

I digress.

Although the drama doesn’t always start with the same person, it always seems to center around one “relative” and either a mean-spirited comment, or just plain stupidity.

So along the way, I’ve learned a few things that have helped me in my situation, that may assist you if you're ever unfortunate to be in my shoes. Here are a few intangibles to bring with you to Thanksgiving dinner. Practicing a little bit of each will put you on the right path to relative survival of the evening.

1. Restraint

No matter how tactless, or inappropriate the comment, do your best to restrain from fueling the fire. One relative during Thanksgiving made one of her many tactless comments to her cousins one Thanksgiving. After a discussion of getting a family cruise together, she stated to everyone within earshot, “We probably should schedule the cruise sooner than later. There’s no telling how long your parents will be around.” She was referencing the health of her aunt which hadn’t been very good that year, and although she was trying to accommodate everyone, this would have been a good time to adhere to the “Think before you speak” adage. Her cousins, did adhere to the adage, although I think they were probably more in shock.

“Think before you speak” Restrain yourself whenever possible. When the individual is known for inappropriate comments, it’s best to avoid a family meltdown altogether.

2. Easy on the Drink

In accordance with “Restraint” go easy on the alcohol. Sure it’s a time of celebration and a great excuse to have a few cocktails, but too much almost always leads to trouble. Think of it as a truth serum. You’ve had a few drinks, and are laughing throughout dinner only to find yourself arguing with a relative because an innocent comment has now opened up a flood gate of suppressed feelings. Although sometimes an enjoyable sport to watch family bickering, now that we have kids it’s become a pain to try and shield them from shouting. Plus it’s difficult trying to explain why a drunk aunty shouted expletives at grandpa.

“Loose lips sinks ships” Reserve the Johnny Walker Black for after everyone leaves and as a before bed cocktail. You’ll be glad you did.

3. Patience

Thanksgiving dinner is never just dinner. There’s hours of preparatory work, cleaning, cooking and setup. If drama is inevitable, as in some families it always is, show patience as everyone is working towards producing a magical evening for family. It’s easy to hit roadblocks along the way, but maintaining patience, a calm demeanor, and understanding that everyone is working towards one goal is priceless. It may be a difficult task but remember, it’s one day. One dinner.

“Don’t sweat the petty things” If you’re lucky you won’t have to worry about the drama until… well, Christmas dinner.

Good luck. Best wishes. Have a great Thanksgiving everyone, and enjoy everything that make your life a thankful one.

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