Thanksgiving Dinner – The Sitcom Sit-down

The holidays are almost here and in theory they should be a time of great joy as we spend precious moments with the people we cherish. Unfortunately for a lot of us that time falls squarely between a sitcom and full-blown horror flick. If they were still making Peanuts cartoons but with a more modern feel, for many of us it would probably be something like, “It’s a dysfunctional family dinner Charlie Brown.”

Whether you are hosting the family dinner or just attending somewhere else, for some reason what should be a safe haven of love and support gets turned into a place you have to emotionally toughen up before walking in the door. If it’s not the delicious aromas of turkey and pie that makes you take a deep breath before ringing the doorbell, what is it?

For starters, you have relatives or friends that can’t be invited at the same time as others, you’ve got an uncle who it’s in everybody’s best interest if you water down his drinks, and there’s always at least one person you know is going to pick apart your life like a buzzard working on a piece of emotional roadkill. The latter can be particularly disturbing when most of us are not facing the easiest of times. All of this leaves Thanksgiving with the potential for the turkey to be stuffed with massive drama!

Before you give it all up and resign yourself to the kiddy table, let’s look at some ways to make the most of these times with family and friends.

First, let’s remember that it is just that, time with the people that mean the most to us. These are people that we know will be there for us through thick and thin. As for Uncle Larry, continue to sneak in the watered down drinks, and if family members are feuding, remember-it’s not your problem. Like I tell my kids, don’t get involved in the drama, and move away from any negative situation.

As for our own worry about being shamed for some of our unfortunate situations, let’s start by not making this a day of playing make believe. It’s time for a little honesty. I’m not saying decorate your house with your dirty laundry but if you’re going through hard times of any sort be honest about them. We stress ourselves out so much with the energy it takes to be “perfect” for the people who should understand us most. To get through any crisis in life we need support. As much as family can tend to judge us and be critical they are there for us. Which brings me to my next suggestion…
Don’t’ be afraid of your family, they really do want to see you succeed. If you are really anxious about the inquiries that will be made by some people who are really labeled as “judgmental” in your tribe, pick up the phone before the big day arrives and let them know what you are going through. While you’re at it, tell them that you are hoping to gain their support and understanding. Many times the people closest to us think they are taking care of us by “fixing” our problems. Let them know if you are just looking to vent, a shoulder to lean on, or maybe not fixing but some positive ideas to guide you through the situation. Hopefully this will lead them to support you in a positive direction and help them keep their negative comments to themselves.

If we can set boundaries and remember what and who are really important in our lives we can get beyond the drama to the love and laughter that should fill our lives more than that extra scoop of mashed potatoes ever could. That said, remember to take time to go around the table to give everyone a chance to talk about what they are truly thankful for.

A Case of the “What Ifs”

Isn’t it incredible how fear can nearly paralyze us and it isn’t until we really hit a major crisis that we see how strong we are? Strength comes from many different things. Mainly from going through a lot of negative experiences and through the process of overcoming these experiences we gain more strength and learn how to be tough, be strong, and plow through.

However, a lot of us still have fear to take the next step in life that is needed to go in the direction that we truly want to go in. This does not involve the type of strength that appears suddenly when hit with crisis. Most of us don’t take the steps necessary to go for our dreams because we think we are not going to be strong enough to take on what it involves to go there. Or we are afraid of failure? Or success? What if? Attached to outcomes…we all want things to turn out exactly the way we see them…but what if they don’t? Do we have the strength to handle that outcome? Do we have the strength to make it through if it is harder than we thought? What if people around me think I am crazy? What if my spouse doesn’t like me anymore because I am doing things differently? What if I can’t pay my bills? What if I take time away from taking care of everyone else? What if I appear selfish? Am I being selfish?

First of all, stop and think of all of the things that will be positive about the changes you will make. Write them down. What if it does create everything you have always wanted? What if your journey takes you in a different direction than anticipated, yet it is still better than where you are now. What if your new experiences create such positive energy and excitement despite the difficulties that come with change? What if you find that you are an even more incredible person than you ever thought you were capable of becoming? What if you do have the strength to handle anything that comes your way? What if people turned around after you started your journey and noticed how incredible your life is becoming because you took a risk, believed in yourself, and no matter what, the process made you stronger, created positive change and now your friends and family are coming to you for advice on how to improve their lives? YEAH??? Well, I can tell you that most likely the positive things that I just mentioned will occur. Now are you scared? If you only knew what you truly are capable of…you would never fear again.