Ah the image of a Norman Rockwell family holiday. Everyone gathered around a beautifully adorned table, extended to its capacity to fit the entire family. The hours of preparations in the kitchen now but a vapor. Your family anxiously takes their places ready to dig in. You on the other hand collapse with exhaustion in your seat wondering if you remembered to turn the oven off.

You’ve spent the last three days baking pies, making side dishes, decorating and now it’s finally here. But what if you forgot something or it doesn’t measure up to all you hoped it would be? It’s ok! The holidays are meant to be enjoyed, not to be a burden. Yet with all the stressors of schedules and getting it all done, we can feel overwhelmed.

What can you do to lighten your load, enjoy the day, and put the ‘Happy’ back in Thanksgiving?

  1. Review your expectations and keep it in perspective

Are you realistically looking at the holiday or are you building it up in a way that will only leave you disappointed? Keep your expectations in check and put the day in perspective. Thanksgiving is a day to be thankful for all that you have and to share it with family or friends.

  1.  Set boundaries.

This year has been a politically charged year to say the least. If you know you don’t see eye to eye with your Uncle Matt on politics, don’t bring up politics across the Thanksgiving table. And, if someone else brings up that taboo topic or any others that should be off limits, be ready to redirect. Remember – You don’t have to go to every argument you are invited to.

  1.  Remember, it’s not about you

“This turkey is a little dry” your Aunt Sarah criticizes bringing the table conversation to a hush. You’ve worked so hard to pull together the dinner and just want to cry. Even if Aunt Sarah is always the one with the critical tongue, know that it’s not about you. Don’t take it personally! Pass her the gravy or pour her some punch. Even I you burn the entire meal, comments about food are not personal judgments on you. The turkey may be dry but that certainly does not mean you’re a failure! Refuse to take comments about the meal to heart as criticisms of your worth.

  1.  Have a plan

Depending on how challenging your family may be for you, it may make sense to have a plan to keep yourself emotionally in a good or safe place. Know when you’ve had enough and need to remove yourself from a conversation, retreat to a different room, and recognize when its time to head home.

  1.  Remember why you are celebrating!

Be thankful for the big things that have made a difference in your life this year… and be sure to remember the little things too. Share a smile. Let the world slow down and just “be” with those you love. Visit, laugh, enjoy!

Have a Happy Thanksgiving!  And enjoy the start of the Christmas Season!

What part of the Thanksgiving and the start of the holiday season are you most looking forward to? What’s your favorite holiday tradition?

I’d love to hear from you!

See you back here next Tuesday for more encouragement.