Thanksgiving is a time when we come together with our families to celebrate the wonderful things that we are thankful for. My family sits down over a table covered with turkey, ham, sweet potatoes, and many other dishes. Before eating, we stand around the table holding hands while my father, the religious patriarch of the family, says a blessing. We begin eating course after course before watching football for hours and saying our goodbyes.
If only, that was the whole story. That short snippet of my family Thanksgiving does not include the sly comments, the thousands of eye rolls, and the constant checking of the clock to when the day will be over, and that’s all just from me!
If your family is like mine, it may be hard to survive the Thanksgiving festivities. My family loves to talk about things that are not their business. I can’t get through my salad without someone commenting on how much weight I have gained.
In previous years, I would get the common, “When are you going to get a girlfriend?” comment. I cannot wait to hear what they are going to say this year when I walk in with my boyfriend on my arm.
Thanksgiving is a time for people that you barely speak to, can make comments that can be offensive. What can we do about it? Here are a few helpful tips to survive holiday family time:
Remember that it is temporary! We hype up holidays so much and for so long that we tend to turn the sprint into a marathon. The day does not last forever. Remember that you have been through hard times before and you can get through this one. Keep your head!
Be prepared! One of the biggest ways to fight anxiety is to be prepared for it. You already know how your family is. Prepare yourself to be around them. We all have things that trigger us. Give yourself time to acknowledge the things that your family may do that will cause a reaction from you. When you realize what they are, they will be easier to handle.
Start the conversations! I don’t like talking about my weight gain or being the only out gay person in the family, so this year we won’t talk about it. By starting the conversation on other topics, you can keep it where you want it to go. It will help you avoid all of the things that you don’t want to hear.
Take breaks! There is nothing wrong with excusing yourself if things are getting a little uncomfortable. Step outside for a bit of cool air or into the bathroom to give yourself a pep talk. Closing my eyes and counting to 10 helps me to get through those moments when I really want to tell my overzealous uncle exactly how I feel.
Be Thankful! Although this holiday may be stressful, let’s not forget that it is still a time to be thankful. My family drives me crazy at times, but I am very happy and consider myself blessed to still have them with me. They aren’t always as bad as I make them out to be. I am thankful that we have finally reached a point in my family dynamic where I can openly bring my boyfriend to holiday celebrations, and I am beyond thankful for that.
Following these few tips may help you to keep a smile on your face despite what you may be feeling inside. Try them out not only for Thanksgiving, but for other times that requires you to be around people who are difficult.
As mentioned before, the holidays are always a good time to get in contact with your therapist to take preventative measures with dealing with the stressors of the seasons. Good luck!
And this year, I am thankful for all of my readers! Thank you!