Thanksgiving is supposed to be a simple time of family togetherness, a heartwarming gathering together of generations around a lovingly prepared meal where everyone shares what they are most grateful for. Picture the Normal Rockwell painting in your head – no one was fighting, life was uncomplicated, no one had dietary restrictions or allergies to contend with. It was simple and virtually effortless.
Now fast forward to Thanksgiving celebrations today in modern families, and you’ll find they can be a little more complicated. There’s very real life stuff happening, like: blended families, custody schedules, dietary restrictions, stressful family dynamics, and often geographical distance. So what’s the key to getting through the holiday without losing your mind? Maybe we need to let go of the idealized version from the Rockwell painting and cut ourselves a little slack.
Thanksgiving, like many other holidays is chock full of expectations. Many people in your family may expect you to celebrate with your immediate family, that you morph into Martha Stewart and cook every dish from scratch, or that Thanksgiving must be held on that particular Thursday. But that does not seem realistic in 2019 – after all, this is a year of breaking rules, right? Honestly, we put so much pressure on ourselves to come together in harmony on this one day, and to do it perfectly. Only to do it all over again one month later in most cases, it’s a bit excessive, no? The holiday season is supposed to be festive (meaning joyful), so let’s think about how we can bring back some of the joy and take some of the pressure off.
If your extended family is not a healthy environment for you, there is no mandate that you must spend Thanksgiving with them. That’s why people invented Friendsgiving. Protect yourself from toxic relationships and if you feel obligated, choose Thanksgiving or Christmas, but you don’t need to do both. It’s too much. The same goes for traveling long distances – it’s expensive and taxing physically and to do it twice in a month’s time… honestly, prop an iPad up and Facetime lol. Set boundaries that protect what is best for you and your immediate family.
If you share custody of children with an ex and this year is not your year for Thanksgiving, don’t get hung up on the actual day. It’s just a calendar day – Thanksgiving can be done on Friday, Saturday or Sunday. Kids honestly don’t care. It’s about the togetherness and the shared meal and being grateful that matters. It’s not about turkey and it’s not about a specific Thursday. It’s about gratitude that can be celebrated anytime on any day we designate. Believe me, your kids will remember the good times, not that it was on a Thursday.
Perhaps you are hosting and someone is attending with a particular dietary restriction that’s new territory for you, don’t fret – there are so many resources out there now to handle basically any allergy or preference. I know from experience that no one likes to feel singled out, so rather than preparing that person their own separate meal (unless they adhere to a religious/spiritual belief that requires separate cooking utensils, etc.) it’s usually better to offer a few options that just quietly adhere to their restrictions. They will feel less like a burden and other people might discover some new favorites. I love using Pinterest as a great resource for recipes and markets like Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s often have prepared or semi-prepared options that are vegan, gluten free or nut free.
The goal here should be to examine how we usually feel at the end of the day on the holiday – do we feel bitter, resentful, emotionally exhausted? If so, we should examine what’s causing that and eliminate those things. If cooking is too much for you, you could order a pre prepared meal, let go of your expectations and enjoy your day. If it’s family arguments, limit the family time. If it’s too much driving and rushing around to see everyone – ask for a few Facetime dates instead. Do what you need to do mama, so that you and your children can sit back at the end of the day and feel content and grateful for a day spent together giving thanks.
What’s Thanksgiving like for you? Do you have any other advice? Please chime in on the conversation and share with us below!
Blog Post by: Kelly Castillo, She’s a Full on Monet