Make This Year the Best Thanksgiving Ever | Eliminate the Holiday Stress in 5 Easy Steps, by Mary Lynn Brook
Over the River and Through the Wood, a poem, written by Lydia Maria Child in 1844 and later set to music conjures up childhood memories of a trip to Grandma’s house for a family Thanksgiving dinner. The memories are sweet but those memories may not be your reality. Listen Now
Your reality may begin with the congested holiday traffic on the 101 freeway the day before Thanksgiving. Like so many other busy parents, you worked up to the moment of departure and are now joining the thousands of families on their way to visit with their family. You thought about taking time off of work to leave early but decided against because you didn’t want to miss a day of pay. You can feel the stress of the holiday starting to build even before you leave the house. After filling your tank with gas at $4.00 per gallon, then packing the car with suitcases, for your two kids and a dog for a few days at Grandma’s house. Just thinking about the holidays causes one to pause and take a deep breath.
Coming together as adults in your childhood home for the holidays can also be a stressor. Having a houseful of grandparents, parents, your sister’s children, your children, and a couple of dogs for a few days brings some challenges. The kids may have fun but living on a different schedule with other family members may take some adjustments.
Make this year the best Thanksgiving ever by reducing stress with these easy tips.
1. Focus on the positive
When faced with the negative challenges of being with your family, focus instead on the positive experiences of being together. Let go of the expectation of being perfect and acknowledge that each family member has valid feelings and agree to disagree. Just laugh when your brother reminds you of how you failed that college entrance exam 20 years ago. It doesn’t matter - let it go. Think about all the good things that came out of that experience. Don’t engage in past events that you cannot change or don’t want to talk about.
2. Manage the Money
Many families face money challenges during the holidays. Taking time off of work to travel to Grandma’s house or buying airline tickets for a family of four may be a financial sacrifice. If travel is a financial burden, it can put a damper on the occasion. If you can’t make the trip this year, be honest with your family and explain the situation to them. Maybe next year, everyone could meet in the middle of the country and start a new tradition. If you don’t have the money, don’t spend it.
Another way to save money is by finding gifts that are meaningful but don’t cost a fortune. Bake your favorite cookies and put them in a holiday cookie tin or frame a current photo of the family. Grandmas love these gifts! Gifts don’t have to be expensive; it’s the thought that counts.
3. Don’t Fret About the Food - it’s Just food
Believe it or not, Thanksgiving is not all about the food. However, if the turkey is the tradition that you absolutely will not compromise, plan with the prep work. Ted Allen’s article in Food Network Magazine called Ted’s Tips for a Stress-Free Thanksgiving, walks you through some useful information on food prep. Read Now
4. Find Joy in the Simple Things
Taking a walk together after dinner and forgetting about the dishes is a good time to reflect and share good feelings. Getting out of the house and stretching your legs will make you feel 100 percent better than if you were to sit in front of the TV. Holding hands, laughing, and playing in the snow is a good bonding opportunity for families. It lets the holiday spirit grow within the family.
5. Be Thankful
Reminiscing about loved ones who are no longer with us can be a worthwhile conversation. Talking about certain traditions they started and you are continuing means you are passing on a part of that person to others. Whether it’s a food tradition, like roasted parsnips or pecan pie vs. pumpkin, every time you eat those foods you will remember them.
Holidays come every year and the timing is predictable. Around Halloween, the stores start stocking for Christmas and grocery stores advertise canned pumpkin. However, each year presents new situations and challenges. It’s how we choose to meet those challenges that will determine the quality of the holiday we enjoy with our family. If the whole process becomes overwhelming, stop and prioritize what is important to you and your family. Remaining calm and positive will have a lasting effect on the people around you. You can set the tone for the season by your choices. It’s OK to set limits on your time and energy. Choose what feels right to you and everything else will fall into place.