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Jewish Journal

Thanksgiving Day Survival Guide

by Mihal Levy

November 25, 2009 | 3:40 pm

Thanksgiving is here, but are you prepared?  And I don’t mean, “have you prepared the cranberry sauce in advance and hauled home the fifty pound turkey?” 
 But are you really ready?  To reconnect with family members you have not seen since last Thanksgiving?  To give Aunt Sarah the run down on your love life?  To explain why you only get together with family once or twice a year?

Here are some Thanksgiving day survival tips:

-Keep a topic of conversation on hand for those uncomfortable moments with family and time-to-change-the-subject moments.

-If you are a guest on Thanksgiving, instead of a bottle of wine or flowers as a host/ess gift, bring a dish you have prepared for the holiday, in case there is nothing you care to eat at the home you have gone to, or they completely have overlooked the fact that you are a vegetarian (again).  (“You can eat the stuffing.  There is no meat in the stuffing, just chicken broth, not a whole chicken.  Sheesh.”)

-If you are invited to family, there is always a way out (to leave early, anyway).  “We promised (fill in the names of your choice), we would stop by their place for dessert.  We would love to stay, but unfortunately, they are waiting.”

-If you are preparing the holiday, make sure you have prearranged seating arrangements. Group your guests according to categories; Chatty Cathies, Self-Promoters, Nosey Yentas…you get the point.  (Note those that are enemies.  Seat at separate ends of the table or separate rooms, better yet.)

-Have plenty of food on hand so there is no need for much conversation.

-Don’t have expectations about the holiday.  Accept that it won’t be perfect; then if it is, you will be pleasantly surprised.

-Avoid topics on politics, how you are managing your home, work and children and reminiscing (not always a good thing) when family reminisces about just how many family functions you have missed in the first place.  “Speaking of cousin Lisa’s wedding.  You haven’t seen them since then and met their three children, have you?”

-Make sure buffer guests are included.  These guests should be cheerful friends, not involved with your family drama, who always know how to keep the party going.

-Make sure you have a separate kids table so the kids don’t have to endure the topics of conversation and you can always retreat to that table when the going gets tough.  (It’s always more fun with the kids.  And they are honest - “I don’t want to sit by Michael.  I don’t like him.”)

Whatever you do, enjoy it.  The food, the family, the drama and the tryptophan effect and bloating of this holiday.  And be thankful…it only comes once a year.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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