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How to enjoy Thanksgiving

    Enjoy Thanksgiving © Can Stock Photo / urbanlight

    By Stephanie Chambers

    Thanksgiving can be a very stressful time of year as you often come to the table with friends or family members that you may not get on well with. But how can you turn this event into a pleasure instead of a pain? These tips can help you to enjoy Thanksgiving.

    Change your attitude

    If you go into Thanksgiving with a determined resolution to keep the peace and to be grateful for all that’s good in your life, it really helps. Focus on the good points of those attending.

    For example, instead of discussing politics which you know may be contentious discuss other more pleasure oriented topics like a relatives recent trip or the last wedding in the family. Even some of the politicians are suggesting that we avoid the topic at the table this year. You can do this ahead of time by telling people it isn’t to be discussed or just carefully switch the topic if it comes up.

    What should you talk about at Thanksgiving?

    Ask people what they have enjoyed doing lately. Or what silly things have happened to them this year. Or what they are proud of that they did this year. Turn the attention to the good things in life. Events like Thanksgiving provide an opportunity for you to connect more closely with those around you. And studies# have shown that regular family dinners actually help prevent teen substance and suicides. Cyberbullying victims bounced back more readily if they had regular family dinners.

    Remove distractions and listen more intently

    Remove distractions so people can listen to each other properly (and ideally confirm the things they heard the other say to check they really are communicating). Turn off the TV. Make it clear that this is a phone free time. Relax and savor every mouthful. Don’t rush your meal. This is a good time to join the slow food movement (even if you normally never have time to eat this way).

    Do a gratitude exercise

    You may like to have everyone to write what they love and are grateful for about someone in the group on a slip of paper and then after the meal when everyone is sitting on couches, you can have the recipient read it out to the whole group. Make sure someone has written a slip for each person even if you have to write a few extra slips yourself.

    Help out

    Don’t just sit there. Offer to help. Prepare the table with someone or help clear it afterwards. Doing things together helps us to connect better and it helps us enjoy Thanksgiving.

    Don’t fan the fire

    If Thanksgiving still triggers something unpleasant, don’t react. Don’t argue. Take a bathroom break and if you can go outside, take a few deep breaths of cool air. Remember that you can discuss it with your counselor later on.

    Try all of these tips and hopefully you will remember this year as your best Thanksgiving meal ever.


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