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An Overjoyed (Not Overwhelmed) Thanksgiving

This post was written by Angela
on November 22, 2011 | Comments (1)

The fluffy nostalgia of approaching holidays has worn off a bit as to-do list reality and event hosting sets in. This is my favorite time of the year, but in the past I’ve found myself wasting it with fret. Instead of sitting with my family and savoring the company, I busy myself in the kitchen cooking and cleaning, worry over who needs what, or get wound up over what the daily schedule is and whether or not we are on track. This year to help ease the chaotic mind I’ve changed a few things. My hope is these tips will help you, too!

(1) Accept and ask for help. I’m a perfectionist and people pleaser. Making everything “just so” all on your own feeds these personality styles, but drains energy in all other areas and robs you of sharing in-the-moment joy time. It takes a conscious effort to get over that self-reliance. Open up to accept the help others offer or will take on when asked! Choose to change for your sake and everyone else’s.  

(2) Accept and ask for help. Just in case you weren’t listening the first time, take note! This one’s important. Can anyone bring a food item? If people are staying over should they bring more pillows and blankets? If you only drink tea, but other family prefers coffee, could someone bring the coffee and coffee maker along?

(3) Plan ahead. This point can still come in handy, even two days from Thanksgiving. While I’ve already planned ahead by getting a head count and asking people to bring certain foods or other items I will also be pre-prepping where I can. Instead of spending a full day frizzing my hair in a steamy kitchen on Thursday, ignoring guests and, lets face it, becoming resentful over the fact that I’m doing all the work (since past me as Wonder Woman had to do it all) I’m having fun doing a little each day instead. Pies, cranberry sauce, lasagna (my tradition), and even turkeys can be premade a day or two ahead with final minor prep on the actual day.  

(4) If you anticipate anxiety inducing conversation, practice it. This is a new tip someone recently passed on to me that can come in handy any day of the year, but will likely prove very handy as some family discussion can be routinly predictable. Is there someone who bullies, like poking fun at your weight? Do you anticipate being asked when you’re getting married, having kids, or getting a “real” job? Imagine having that conversation and playing it out with your best response. Just like studying for an exam, knowing your answers will make the real deal less stressful.  

(5) Think of unique traditions, beliefs, and practices. If everyone finds joy and comfort in them, follow through! However, if there are customs that others try to lead that make you uncomfortable or annoyed (or vise versa) try to think of ways to shift the tradition or add to it with your own. If you hate the yearly tradition of naming something you’re thankful for before diving into your turkey dinner, simply “pass” and ponder over what everyone else is thankful for. If you don’t attune to the traditional pre-meal prayer that others find peace in, perhaps honor their practice and then add a special reading of your own that fits your unique perspective. And if you can’t stand that movie or football game that everyone just loves to settle in to watch together bring a book along to appease your annoyance, but allows you to sit and relax with the family.

An example quote to offer as alternative thanks or prayer:  “Let us rise up and be thankful, for if we didn’t learn a lot today, at least we learned a little, and if we didn’t learn a little, at least we didn’t get sick, and if we got sick, at least we didn’t die; so, let us all be thankful.”-Buddha

(6) Take a bath (or other similar stress busting activity of your choosing). For real. Don’t skip this one! Letting out a little stress will help keep you’re mind on the fact that this is all supposed to be a time for joy!

(7) Let the day be what it will be. You can gather people. You can make food. You can clean up the mess. You can’t control everything a day will be. Don’t pull out your hair trying to.

Don’t get me wrong, I love all the prep and organizing, the family gathering, the old and new traditions and nostalgia. Still, there are ways to bring people together that will leave you more overjoyed than overwhelmed. Here’s to a Happy Thanksgiving on your end; I hope it’s an enjoyable one!

Reader Comments

avatar
#1 
Written By Rachel Wright
on November 23rd, 2011 @ 11:29 am

I have to say this is a wonderful article. I feel the same way, little stress to it.
I think as I got older I realized it is not worth all the stress.

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