How to: Avoid turkey day turmoil

Bradley Krzysztow

Pick your battles with family at Thanksgiving
Pick your battles with family at Thanksgiving

Sometimes you have to pick and choose your battles.

The holiday season is a time for togetherness, hot food and family.

Thanksgiving starts off the holiday festivities and on the fourth Thursday of November, people gather for a great day of food, football and family.

But what if your family is taking the fun out of Thanksgiving?

What can you do to lower the stress and increase your happiness this holiday season?

Here are some tips to deal with the aches and pains of family and hopefully stay sane.

Normally, the gathering of family is a joyous occasion. A turkey cooks in the oven while wine is poured.

Some choose catch up on the latest news and gossip, while others choose to watch football on the big screen.

Newborn babies are passed around like candy, and the table is filled with bowls of mashed potatoes, stuffing and green bean casserole.

Now, this sounds like the beginning of a perfect Thanksgiving dinner.

But some problems may arise, as they always seem to.

One classic problem that comes up is when a certain family member critiques your cooking.

You’re elbow-deep stuffing your turkey, and she comes up to you with some suggestions of her own. But why do her “suggestions” always seem more like instructions? And if you don’t follow her ideas, her feelings get hurt.

So what can you do to deter this overly-eager chef’s little “helper?”

I think the best way is to let them down nicely. Be accepting of their ideas, and let them know you appreciate their input. Also, don’t be rude; tell them you’ll think about adding their tips into your recipes for next year.

Sometimes you have to pick and choose your battles. If they want to add so many ingredients to your home-made stuffing that it would change it completely, tell them nicely it is your recipe and your house, and that they can make their own stuffing next year.

But if they want to add a few more pinches of salt into your green bean casserole, let it slide. It won’t hurt anybody in the long run, and you just let that person have a small holiday victory.

There always seems to be a family member that brings in some amount of drama that’s going on in their life. It could be a little or a lot.

He waltzes through the front door, sometimes with an overly happy, obviously fake look on his face, or with a downtrodden, sullen frown, both of which scream for attention.

After many questions and much prodding, he’ll keep saying nothing is wrong, until he finally decides he has enough attention on him to tell his story.

Then, he’ll go on a tirade about how he has never done anything wrong, and how everyone is out to get him. The world is against him, and there is no end in sight to the blatant discrimination he is subjected to.

How do you avert this disaster? How do you get him, and people like him, to keep their problems to themselves and not make the festivities all about them?

Unfortunately, it’s easier said than done. If possible, try and pull them to the side to talk to them. You don’t want to inadvertently make them the center of attention, or embarrass them in front of the family.

Tell them the family cares about them, and to an extent, is there to help him if they need it.

But you need to tell them there is a time and a place for everything, and Thanksgiving is not the proper venue to air their life’s problems.

One more train wreck to avoid is fighting among family members.

We’ve all seen it happen, whether it’s while the food is cooking, while watching the football game, during dinner or afterward.

Someone’s feelings get hurt, and the fighting and yelling commence.

When this happens, it needs to be diffused quickly, before someone says somethingelse hurtful. Once the situation has been contained, you can tell everybody involved to let bygones be bygones.

Help them realize whatever they were fighting about pales in comparison to having quality family time during holidays.

Complications may arise, and people may get fussy, but it comes with the territory.

Just remember, these are the people closest and most important to you.

Hopefully, everything goes off without a hitch, so you can take your post-feast nap in peace and quiet. Happy Turkey Day!

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