Thanksgiving and Other Winter Family Gatherings

With Thanksgiving being but a mere two weeks from today I’m reminded how many loving families seem to go absolutely bonkers during this time of the year.

David Schneider, M.D., a man nationally recognized for his work with the Academy on Violence and Abuse and the chair of family and community medicine at Saint Louis University, said it this way: “There’s a lot of stress associated with the holidays, from pressure to provide for the family and money issues to spending more time with distant family. Domestic violence often revolves around high stress times,”

Now I’m not saying that Feter Shlomo or Cousin Barry are going to go postal while sitting around the Thanksgiving table but we all know how it goes. Someone brings up a story (you know the same one they tell every year) and someone else gets frustrated because the other one is telling it wrong. The next thing you know everybody except the kids are grousing.

So this year why not try:

  • avoiding hashing out “issues” from the past. Yes, all the witnesses may very well be there but seriously this is not the time to bring up unresolved conflict. If you absolutely feel as if you must “talk it out” do it away from the rest of the family and do it someplace public (you’ll be less likely to “lose your cool”). Also, if possible bring someone you both trust that can be unbias to help you talk it out. But again you really should avoid “heated” discussions regarding family issues at family gatherings.
  • bringing a quick and easy game – suitable for all ages. Apples to Apples, 7 8 9, and Easy Come, Easy Go come to mind.
  • reading a book before the gathering and talk about it at the gathering? Just be sure to pick a book that is neutral and enjoyable for the entire family.
  • drinking 2 glasses of water for every 1 glass of wine or beer? This will help everyone stay hydrated and less tipsy.
  • being prepared with a happy/funny/warm & fuzzy story that everyone will enjoy hearing – you may even want to print it out so others can take it home with them.
  • bringing a single player game or book you enjoy. This way, if you need a family break you have something to help you clear your head.
  • letting the children share a special report on something (anything) they have learned or enjoyed since the last family gathering. Allow them to use their own words and be as creative or reserved as the like. Little Sarah’s take on the ice cream shop as a seven year old may be just the thing to get everyone smile.

I hope everyone enjoys the coming weeks of family togetherness. I know I will.

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