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A Stress Free Thanksgiving!!!
By Sharon Grehan-Howes
As the name suggests Thanksgiving should be a time of giving thanks. A time to appreciate what we have and who we have to share with. It is also a time where a fully grown woman can be scorned and marginalized for putting on a few pounds while her sister, the high-school dropout is praised to high heaven for teaching her slack-jawed son to say "paw paw."
If your family portrait would be better represented by Arbus than Rockwell these tips are for you!
The first mistake people make is to let emotion take over. If a comment is addressed to you, before you take offense ask yourself this "Is the person really saying this to be hurtful?" If the answer is no, just let it go. If you are unsure, discuss the issue at a later time one to one.
For example at a dinner hosted by Sister A, Sister B asks "How is your career going?" Sister A knows that there are invisible quotes around career. She knows that Sister B is getting in a dig. She knows that what Sister B is saying was "Look at me I married rich and here you are flailing around like a beached halibut."
Sister A feels that even if she does have to write stupid self-help articles for a two-bit nickle and dime women's magazine that doesn't come close to covering the bills she is still trying to make something of herself. She knows that Sister B is saying that just to show her up in front of company so Sister A is quite right when she calls Sister B an old cow and then brings up the fact that Sister B is grooming her daughters to be exactly like her, brainless ninnies who feel that they don't exist without a man. Sister A also reveals what really happened to Fluffy in 1974.
In this case Sister A was absolutely right in dealing with the issue this way.
STICK TO THE ISSUE
If an argument arises you must deal with the issue at hand. A family gathering is an emotional minefield, there are years and years of shared memories and resentment. It is far too easy to let an situation to escalate. You must look at the issue singularly and rationally.
When Father says "What have you done with your hair?" Sister A knows the issue is the loan for $2500 she has not repaid. She tells Father that it is just like him to ruin the entire day, that money has always been more important to him than his children's happiness, that she was virtually ignored by him as a child because of his pursuit for the mighty dollar. She brings up his affair with the Denny's waitress and tells him that thanks to him she will never trust a man again.
Sister A was able to recognize the issue and address it immediately and once again handled the situation correctly. It is not her fault that people cannot deal with an issue reasonably when they were the one's who started it.
Your job as host is to make sure that the day passes smoothly. If you see tension or conflict on the horizon it is your duty to nip it in the bud.
When Sister A hears mother say "Pass the peas" she knows that she is trying to take control of the event. She knows that Mother refuses to see that her little girl has grown up. Even though she has built a life of her own she knows that she will never escape from that women's toxic cloud, that if she doesn't break free whe will be smothered. She tells Mother that she is sick of her butting in and furthermore, her past addiction to Contact C left the children feeling alone and abandonded. Sister A knocks over the dining room table and orders everyone out.
Sister A handled this situation splendidly. She was able to spot potential problem and halt it before it got out of control.
Sister A will probably be spending Thanksgiving alone this year with a bottle of Chianti, a Lean Cuisine and a copy of the Panic Room and I...she just doesn't care. She is happy on her own and does not need these people. She will probably spend Christmas the same way unless someone apologizes and does it soon.
Using these tips have a healthy, happy Thanksgiving!
© Sharon Grehan