Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Rules of Engagement--Thanksgiving Day

Thanksgiving horror stories--we've all got one or two or three disastrous family-gathering stories we could share with others.  Why is that the holidays tend to bring out the best and worst in people, especially among our loved ones? 
If you're the one hosting this year's dinner (lucky you) then it's important to set the ground rules and let your family and friends know you're the captain of the ship and they'd better follow your command at the dinner table. I know, easier said than done.  This year if I was hosting the dinner I'd tell everyone that before they came to my house they had to read my latest release, because we'd be discussing story structure, plot and characterization over the turkey dinner.  But that's not the case, we're heading to my sister-in-law's home.
Beau: Cowboy Protector
November 2012

 Linda Lewis Griffith is a marriage and family therapist www.lindalewisgriffith.com who recommends the following... 
Rules of Engagement
Be pleasant at all times.
Do not bring up hurtful issues from the past.
Engage in appropriate dialogue.
Discuss only mutually safe topics.  
Avoid possibly contentious subjects.
Show up on time.
Be helpful.
Monitor your own consumption of alcohol.
Do your best to get along with everyone at the gathering.
Encourage children to play outside if the weather permits.
Be attentive to your own children’s needs and actions.
If you believe your family is incapable of following your rules or someone always sabotages your good intentions (you know your cousin Claire was jealous that you got asked to the junior prom and she didn't) then you may want to consider the following
Spend the holiday in a public place. (Wishful thinking, I know)
If you are the host, don't exhaust yourself before Thanksgiving dinner.
Right before the holidays, furniture and rug sales always go up. Many family members, especially siblings, are in competition over issues like who has the best and cleanest house, who is the best cook, etc. If you are hosting Thanksgiving, don't get into this kind of competitiveness: it will only exhaust you and ruin your holiday. It is okay to cut corners. Include ready-made foods along with homemade ones, close off messy rooms, and accept help in the kitchen. Your relaxed mood will set the tone of the gathering.
Spend time and energy on planning entertainment.
Thanksgiving is the slowest afternoon of the year, says Dr. William Doherty, a professor of family social science at the University of Minnesota. The parade, the turkey, the football games and lethargy caused by overeating make it a long boring time, especially for children. Families get "cabin fever" and tensions arise.
Let the dinner end by early afternoon so that people can go to a movie or take a walk, if they desire. Give children the freedom to play outside; allow teenagers to go out by themselves. Bundle up and go look at store windows together. Have board games and other entertainment available.
Have a clever seating arrangement.
Try using place cards to assign seats so that you can separate people who do not get along. Although you may be tempted to, don't seat family members who have been feuding for years next to each other. 
Depending on the "Host Home" our family can have a very eclectic group gathering each Thanksgiving--family, friends, neighbors, co-workers and possibly even a divorced spouse or two.  A few Taboo Topics at our family gathering: Climate Change, Politics, Body Piercings, Body Weight, Hair Styles & Religion. 
Now for the fun part...what topics are taboo at your Thanksgiving Table?
Beau: Cowboy Protector November 2012
No Ordinary Cowboy *Rodeo Rebels* April 2013
The Cowboy Next Door *The Cash Brothers* July 2013





BW said...

Interesting advice but it needs rules about pets. I will be bringing my almost 13 year old dog and my sister will be bringing her new puppy.

Have a Happy Thanksgiving.

linda s said...

Rules??? I would be laughed out of my own house. Dsil's mother's dog is not welcome as it is not house trained. She can't leave it outside as it attacks my dog who is about seventy pounds bigger and not adverse to snacking on small rodents. I envy anyone who knows in advance who is coming for dinner and what they eat. In addition to the turkey and ham, I prepare a vegan turkey loaf just in case...

Marin Thomas said...

BW & Linda--I agree with the pet rule--we leave ours at home and end up having to break away during the day to go take them out or feed them or we've had to leave early but too many pets can make for a crazy gathering.
Good luck with your family get-togethers this year!

Amanda Renée said...

Actually the pet rule gives me an idea - "Sorry, I can't stay longer, even though I did enjoy little Billy dumping is cranberry sauce on my skirt and Uncle Oscar's story about how I ran through the house naked when I was two, oh don't worry, your comments on my choice of men didn't hurt my feelings, but I really must head home to take care of my dog. Toodles! Had a great time." That works for me :)