This past week I’ve heard nothing but phrase for Thanksgiving. It is probably one of the most beloved holidays of the year. Practically everyone looks forward to sitting down to a sumptuous feast surrounded by family and friends. Whether the guest list is comprised of crazy blood relatives or an eclectic mashup of companions and co-workers, one thing’s for certain, Thanksgiving provides us with an opportunity to share in each other’s company and feel grateful without the pressure of giving anything but our time and our presence.
Bearing this in mind, the best thing we can do for one another on this day devoted to giving thanks is to hold our collective tongues and avoid talking turkey at all costs. No need to speak frankly and please leave your passionate one-sided opinions at home. Trust me, they’ll be there waiting for you when you return. The Thanksgiving table is not the time to rehash terrible atrocities or stand on soapboxes of any kind. Our cup is full after what has seemed like an endless stream of outrageous scandals, senseless crimes, and unforeseen disasters. On this day we can take a break from getting to the meat of the matter and focus instead on what’s truly important – the sides – those kindler, gentler exchanges that guide our conversations and drive civil discourse. To ensure your Thanksgiving is free of controversy, here are five ways to avoid talking turkey at the table this year.
1. Make it a formal affair. To create harmony at Thanksgiving, create a more formal atmosphere. Set the tone of the Thanksgiving meal and keep things cordial by encouraging all guests to dress for the occasion. They will be much more inclined to be on their best behavior and turn on the charm than if they had arrived in their stretchy sweatpants and comfy sweaters.
2. Keep atmosphere light and breezy. It is a well-known fact that humor is the best remedy to loosen things up and relieve a tense situation. Levity is definitely the way to go with those guests who are wound up too tight. If the air is so thick you can cut it with a knife, put on a fun holiday movie, crack a few jokes or encourage a spontaneous game of charades which is always guaranteed to make people laugh. This should help alleviate the tension and hopefully make everyone forget their troubles (at least for a while).
3. Refrain from pushing each other’s buttons. Family members and close friends are acutely aware of just the right button to push that might trigger another guest even on their best day. Bite your tongue, count to ten, run a lap around the block, do whatever you can to abstain from saying the wrong thing that may potentially ruin the entire occasion. You have the control and it is within your power to hold back, smile and rise above the situation.
4. Compliments are better than criticism. When we relax and are truly present for one another it is easy to find something nice to say that will make the other person feel good and loved during this time of year. Compliments are always well-received. It doesn’t have to be anything earth-shattering, but it should definitely be authentic. After you pay a compliment, you may be pleasantly surprised by a normally restrained guest who now feels more inclined to pay you a compliment in return.
5. Find something to be thankful for. Recognize the obvious and be thankful for the small things. Being invited to someone’s home or hosting a Thanksgiving meal is a blessing in itself. For older relatives in attendance, this may be their last. You never know what the future holds so cherish each moment together, appreciate each other and concentrate on the positive, unique attributes. Finally, before you gorge yourself with the Thanksgiving feast, go around the table and say one thing you are thankful for and maybe even one nice thing to each person at the table. This will bring instant connection and warmth to everyone in the room and isn’t that all we really want anyway?