Thanksgiving is a treasured holiday in the lives of most American families. Yet, because of the tendency to romanticize Thanksgiving Days gone by, we can set the bar of expectation so high that we're bound to experience stress when the reality doesn't match up to the expectation.
Here are five tips on reducing the stress level of Thanksgiving Day:
1. Manage Your Traditions. Thanksgiving family traditions are great, but if not managed, we can end up serving the tradition rather than the tradition serving us. So don't make the location or menu items the heart of your traditions. Rather, focus on the traditions of the heart: the relationships you get to renew each Thanksgiving Day, the conversations, the laughter, and the love.
2. Acknowledge the Truth: There is No "Perfect" Thanksgiving. Give up pursuing the dream of a perfect Thanksgiving. It doesn't exist. Fortunately, perfection isn't required for a "happy" Thanksgiving. When something goes awry, as it inevitably will, how you respond to the situation will determine your stress level.
3. Evaluate Your Expectations. There's nothing wrong with having expectations. Knowing what they are can help you adjust them to be more in line with reality. So, here are four questions: 1) What are you planning? 2) Why are you planning it? 3) Is it meaningful? 4) Is it reasonable to believe you can accomplish what you are planning?
4. Create Some Margin. Hosting Thanksgiving at your home is no "holiday." While it may be a labor of love, it's still labor! The person or persons most responsible often get run ragged. Carve out some space for yourself by sharing responsibilities.
5. Don't Take the Bait! Most every family has at least one member who loves to stir the pot and push others' buttons. And it seems that T-Day is often the pot-stirring, button-pushing high holy holiday. Expect that some snarky comment will be made. Let it go, or make light of it. These comments are almost always an exercise in fishing. Remember, the fish that gets hooked, is the fish that takes the bait.