Let me start by extending my deepest sympathies to those of you who will soon sit down to a holiday meal with wingnut relatives. Especially this year. Wow. (Based on some of the comments you all have shared, I must ask: Have you considered earplugs and some sort of face shield?)
Or really, anyone who will attend a family gathering that contains one or more people you could happily go without seeing until after the heat death of the universe.
It’s a difficult time of the year for people who didn’t draw the Idealized Family card. One of the more noxious beliefs about the holiday season is that any differences family members have are a) Relatively minor and/or b) Should be put aside. [Begin quavery violins.] Because holidays are about family and gratitude and love and giving and togetherness.
Even those evergreen articles about Coping with the Holidays that do address stress triggered by family lack one very important suggestion. A suggestion that I’m going to share with you right now:
If you have family members you normally avoid like the plague, continue to do so. Square that if you have health issues that lower your tolerance for additional stress.
But what if that means spending a holiday alone? Well gee, let’s consider the implications of spending a holiday alone. If you spend a holiday alone, you get at least one obligation-free day all to yourself.
And on Thanksgiving that means no one will interrupt while you’re listening to Alice’s Restaurant.
Question answered, I think.
And then there’s Thanksgiving Day for two. It is important that couples have a full and frank conversation about what they want to do on a holiday that is associated with a large meal. They should weigh their desires and expectations against the financial, physical and mental effort involved in making the meal Special, and possibly decide – To hell with it.
Here’s a transcript of one such conversation:
A: So, do you want to have anything special to eat on Thanksgiving?
B: Eh, I’d rather just enjoy the day off. But if you want to cook something special, you can.
A: I was going to make a butternut squash pie*.
*Update: I’ve never made one before and want to try it before Christmas with the in laws (great people, high baking standards). I will work from at least one recipe I find on the internet. Since I assume it will be sortofish like a sweet potato pie, the crust will be gingersnap crumb.