Five Tips to Keep Things Light This Thanksgiving

Sitcoms, movies and comedians have long cooked up jokes about the holidays – especially Thanksgiving – because we gather with family we typically do not see much throughout the year, often by choice.  At least that is what the jokes imply.  Case in point: Jim Gaffigan’s take on Thanksgiving. We see cards and clever napkins with depictions of people stuffing themselves, plying themselves with wine and then passing out on the couch in front of the TV, only to ignore the very family they’re visiting.  So what gives?

I don’t think people should ever feel obligated to gather family for dinner just because it’s an American tradition.  They should be with people they love … and genuinely like. I happen to love, and like, my family so it is fun to see them at the holidays (and throughout the year). And yes, I some times drink too much wine, but it’s not because I don’t like my family. It’s because I happen to really like wine.  But some families can become like an infected cut or inflamed sore.  Wine + long-held grudges = trouble. And some family members don’t help things by reopening old wounds.  One never knows what will come out around the Thanksgiving table.

So here are a few tips for you to digest to help you keep things light this Thanksgiving.

#5 If it seems like cousin Tom just can’t quit his habit of ‘playfully’ harassing uncle Frank about his beloved Eagles, don’t let it escalate to the point of them each giving the other the bird.  Swoop in with a picture on your phone of Kim Kardashian’s latest, slippery photo shoot. Then she’s the only ass you’re looking at.

#4 Help keep your mom from getting upset when Aunt Louise slanders her stuffing, saying it’s too dry, by having a water balloon at the ready. Offer a solution to your aunt’s problem that will probably help her to get over it and may amuse your mom.

#3 Everyone eats too much at Thanksgiving dinner and most people complain about it afterward with regretful words like, “I can’t believe I had that third helping of mashed potatoes and gravy. I’ll have to hit the gym five times tomorrow just to burn those calories off, and I don’t even have a gym membership.”  Help everyone avoid the discomfort of  that tight/ready-to-explode feeling by passing out sweat pants with an elastic waist band before dinner.   Just think, if you all wear a pair, then you can share a special bond and even look like a sloppy gang ready to hit the aisles of Walmart.

#2 I love good conversation. Art. Pop culture. Religion. Politics. News. Style. Home decor. You name it and I love to share my opinion on it …and even listen to other opinions on occasion. But be careful at holiday dinners. Think of the rules you would follow on a first date: no talk of religion, politics or other potentially controversial topics. Let the turkey be the only thing that gets burned on this holiday. If Uncle Fred or Aunt Wilma share their views on gun control or immigration and you disagree, just smile and nod. Let your ego take a nap early. You don’t need to share your opposite view or to ‘school’ anyone on the ‘right’ way to think. Instead, start a debate about which flavor ice cream is the best to serve on the apple pie. That way, there’s no real winner… or loser.

#1 No matter how you spend Thanksgiving – whether you have to work, you choose to be alone or with only a few people, or you visit lots of family – remember that there is no amount of laughter that is too big to serve. Laughter not only doesn’t contain calories, it helps to burn calories. And anyone who doesn’t like to laugh is … well…I hate to say it, but a real turkey!

Stuffing This In Because I Procrastinate

I have many good intentions. And I’m sure I’ve even stated this before in a previous blog. We all know what’s been said about good intentions. They’re what the road to hell is paved with.  I hope I haven’t offended anyone. The bottom line or gist is that we all have things we want to accomplish and we can sit and think and think and even plan with color charts and long lists. But action and doing are really the things that matter. So with that said, I’ve been jotting down ideas and even a few sentences about blog posts that I was going to write but here I am about two months after the fact so I’m being spontaneous and stuffing this post in my day. But please don’t think it’s done with any less love for you my readers, or without a purpose. My purpose is to wish you a warm Thanksgiving holiday and to remind you of the value that laughter and humor have during these times.

Holidays can be an incredible gift to us. We are given permission and time to sit around a table and reminisce about good times and we ultimately create next year’s fond memories. But not every table or home will be the portrait of peace and love. In fact, all families have their pain points. That relative whose name no one is supposed to speak. The one who left his family to go open a T-shirt shop in Florida with a woman he met on Facebook who shared his love for fishing and Jimmy Buffet. Or maybe on a more serious note, a loved one is going through serious health issues and everyone wants to act like nothing is wrong because the alternative is too scary. Or perhaps there’s always a relative or two who tips the wine a bit too liberally and then opens up old wounds.  Like how Aunt Beth talks about how her brother Edwin stole her red Schwinn from the family porch and sold it to fund his baseball card collection but denies it all these years later.

Maybe none of what I’ve written so far pertains to you or rings a bell, on a Schwinn or otherwise. And, maybe it does. We’re all the same on this Earth. We all have pain. We all want to feel loved, safe, warm and happy! So let’s do our best to wrap up in the warmth of the fellowship we have on Thanksgiving and appreciate it for what it is. And if you are without family or friends, my wish for you is that you can share your gifts with others within the community or maybe you can just celebrate how wonderful YOU are.

However you celebrate Thanksgiving this week and whoever you are with, I hope you do it with a smile and some great laughs. I know that I will be doing my best to use humor as I always do. I have some of the fondest memories of my family Thanksgivings from the time I was dressed as an Indian at age six (something that would surely seem politically incorrect today) to the year I was Aunt Beth (just one year Jeannine, really?) drinking X number glasses of wine and fighting the liberal fight defending Rosie O’Donnell, France and Democrats in general. With some tears and lots of laughter, what I felt most was love!

Whether you’re the turkey or the turkey carver: I hope you forgive, forget, love and most importantly: laugh, laugh and laugh some more.