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Recipe For Happy Thanksgiving Gatherings

Updated on November 18, 2015

Not Every Family Gathering Is A Cheery Event

Dr Fredrick Riehl Family, Thanksgiving Day 1893 San Francisco,California. This photo Includes his second wife who was my grandfathers step-mother.
Dr Fredrick Riehl Family, Thanksgiving Day 1893 San Francisco,California. This photo Includes his second wife who was my grandfathers step-mother. | Source


Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. I don't have to wonder about what to cook for dinner, nor is it imperative to decorate to impress anyone. A fall colored tablecloth and some fallen leaves make a simple yet beautiful table setting.

One of my sons would get crabby and extremely negative when he was small. There was an easy solution for adjusting his attitude. All he had to do was name five things he was thankful for.

Last night after an extremely trying week I noticed my rental car had a flat tire. The reason for the rental car? Our car had been in a crash.. My husband and I tried the thankful activity. What a difference it made in how we looked at the day.

  • Nobody was hurt.
  • The car could be fixed
  • The flat tire was in front of the house and we noticed the problem before it was a problem.
  • I had put the daily insurance on the rental that covered the new tire.
  • Nobody was hurt in the accident.

Have you ever noticed when one person with a thankful attitude it is just as contagious as a person with a negative attitude?


Your family is not always the first group of people you think of when you are counting your blessings. It is important to remember your family genealogy is unique to you. When I am looking at old family pictures of people I never knew, there is no doubt they are my ancestors. My oldest brother has a chin like our great grandfather, My other brother has eyes like great grandfather. My grandfathers half sister looks like my dads sister. I look like her. My dad and middle son both look very much like my grandfather.

A family molds us whether we like it or not. We can choose to make the most of our family or let them drag us down.

Sometimes other families look better than your own. My brothers are older, so I was raised like an only child. I adopted myself into my best friends family. Her family had six kids; it was never as lonely at her house as it was at mine. Her parents out lived mine and I love them as my own.

Every family has issues. Holidays frequently exacerbate issues. Holidays are advertised as happy times for families gathering. That is advertising. Crisis hotlines are busiest on Thanksgiving and Christmas and during the month of January. Suicides increase during these times. Some depression could be a result of crummy weather. Often depression is occurs when expectations not met. The advertised images don't match with reality. Americans have bought into what Madison Avenue, We hope for something families seldom can deliver.

Holidays are trying especially for singles, newly married and divorced couples. They discover traditions, whether good or bad, have strong grips on families. Where do you spend the holiday? Our first married Christmas we ate three Christmas dinners because we didn't know how to say,"No". Sometimes "No" is the correct answer.

A little planning can help you sidestep or divert some of the conflicts of family celebrations.

A Family Is A Stage And Everybody Has A Roll

Strange things happen when grown children return to their parents home for the holidays. Suddenly, everyone sides back into their childhood rolls. The new spouse or partner doesn't have a roll. So they have to figure out where they fit. They don't know the rules about who not to talk to. New family members don't necessarily know who is with whom. It can get pretty confusing when parents, siblings, cousins, aunts or uncles are divorced yet are all together for the family gathering. You almost need a score card. At least you do in my family. Keeping track is especially important when the young couple hosts the holiday for the first time.

Being thoughtful and creative can make a nice holiday. Sometimes you need to rethink expectations. There are some people, no matter how close a family member, that should ever be allowed in your home for the holidays. Do not feel badly if you ban people who have repeatedly abused you! You are too special to allow someone to abuse you.


The Relationship Recipe

The recipe for relationships is more important than the food. Fighting and discord can make the best food taste like straw. Planning and preparation can help avoid hurt feelings and arguments. You must set boundaries. If telling a family member you don't want them to...whatever, sounds to them like a challenge to make it happen; it is important to divert and distract. You might ask how to make that happen. It is easier than you may think.

After years of being told it was rude to ask company what they were thankful for after they arrived for dinner, I made the announcement today, "Everyone will be asked to contribute to Thanksgiving by declaring what they are thankful for". One of my family members immediately said ,"No". Then his brother started acting like he was unable to write. Then he asked his dad for a pen. He wrote down what he was thankful for on a napkin. We all laughed and laughed. He had put his new wife's name and, "other stuff" on his napkin. Good humor by someone in the family is also very helpful for making a Thanksgiving recipe that is a delight to everyone. Happy Thanksgiving!

Divert and Distract

Divert and distract works very well for small children and those with a tendency to act childishly. So plan plenty of activities for your family dinner. The bigger the space you have the easier it is to keep undesirable combinations of people apart. If you have a small place use all of it. Almost everyone has at least two televisions, if you don't have two televisions have a single guest bring another TV or rent one. Then prepare you house in sections.

  • Have one television set up with a game console.
  • Put the football game in the bedroom by adding some chairs for the fans.
  • Have a play area for small children.
  • Have munchies available when people arrive to avoid drunkenness or small children whining.
  • Is there a specially something that brings good memories to everyone? Bring out that scrapbook.
  • Have a variety of games and puzzles and make them visible. Suggest games if people look like they are getting board.
  • Almost every teenager I know has a working knowledge of poker. Have a card table available. I put the hearty young men in the garage. They are perfectly happy playing cards, while wearing coats out there. Especially with their own stash of food and beverages.
  • Take a family stroll to the park for a game of tag, football or whatever.
  • Keep the alcohol limited. Alcohol or liquid courage as it is sometimes called is just that. Nice people turn nasty and nasty people can get lots worse when the liquor flows too freely.
  • Have Thanksgiving information and a quiz printed.
  • Does someone in the family play an instrument well? Ask them to bring it and play for everyone.

Focus on being Thankful. Everyone can be thankful for their parents. Now wait a minute, you may say, "My parents were crummy". You can be thankful to parents because they gave you life. Crummy parents do have control over who you are unless you allow them to do so.. Sometimes it's difficult to get started being thankful, but once you start you will see how fortunate you are it gets easier. If you are reading this, you can be thankful for your eyesight.

I am thankful that I have breath and for the use of this computer. Last night my neighbors house caught on fire. I am grateful for the other neighbor who smelled smoke and and acted, I am thankful everyone in the house was safe.

I am thankful for you dear reader.

You have a choice to be thankful or not. You choose?


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    • tirelesstraveler profile image

      Judy Specht 4 years ago from California

      Nonna, Welcome , so glad you stopped by. This year I have focused on thankfulness November. My niece started the challenge. She has had a month, her dad hospitalized, first kid off to school in another state worrying about grandpa, but every day she is thankful and it is delightful to be around her.

    • Dee aka Nonna profile image

      Dee aka Nonna 4 years ago

      I am thankful....everyday! I am also thankful for the way you drew us a picture, of family, with you words. Love the idea of 5 thinks to be thankful when things are going a little wrong in my day.

    • Vellur profile image

      Nithya Venkat 5 years ago from Dubai

      Enjoyed reading this hub. There is so much for me to be thankful for. Voted up.

    • tirelesstraveler profile image

      Judy Specht 6 years ago from California

      oceansnsunsets, Thanks for dropping by. I needed the reminder to be thankful even in the hard times. That reminder needs to happen over and over.

    • oceansnsunsets profile image

      Paula 6 years ago from The Midwest, USA

      Good things to think on for sure. I like how you said to focus on being thankful. Even for the hard things, in time, we can see how there are ways to be thankful very often. Thanks for sharing.

    • tirelesstraveler profile image

      Judy Specht 6 years ago from California

      GamaGoldie, A very Blessed holiday to you and yours.

    • GmaGoldie profile image

      Kelly Kline Burnett 6 years ago from Madison, Wisconsin


      I find the interpersonal relationships to the most important too. Very well done hub - absolutely necessary to understand the family dynamics. I do try to pre-arrange in my mind a few topics for our children. And yes, I am the queen of diverting the topic when the topic becomes strained - how did I get appointed to that job duty?! I am very thankful for family. This will be our first thanksgiving as a married couple in our own home together - very excited.

    • tirelesstraveler profile image

      Judy Specht 6 years ago from California

      Millionaire, So true, attitude of gratitude helps everything. Thanks for stopping. Have a Blessed Thanksgiving.

    • Millionaire Tips profile image

      Shasta Matova 6 years ago from USA

      I agree with you, keeping the guests busy is very important to distract them from doing things if they were left to their own devices. having an attitude of gratitude helps too.

    • tirelesstraveler profile image

      Judy Specht 6 years ago from California

      So thankful you stopped and enjoyed. Our family get togethers are fun also, It just takes a bit of planning.

    • pedrn44 profile image

      Sandi 6 years ago from Greenfield, Wisconsin

      Thanks so much for this hub. I was actually looking for a recipe and read something much more interesting. Thankfully our family gatherings are nothing but fun, go way too fast and end way too soon. We are lucky, I know.

    • tirelesstraveler profile image

      Judy Specht 6 years ago from California

      Eiddwen, Thank you for stopping and voting.

    • Eiddwen profile image

      Eiddwen 6 years ago from Wales

      Well I have the honour of being the very first to commnet on this hub.

      I enjoyed it and have to vote up.

      I now also look forward to reading many more hubs by you;and I am glad you came across me on here.

      Take care and have a great day.