Uh oh, here comes Thanksgiving. I personally dig it. I love the lazy hang and the big feed. But for a lot of folks, this holiday has the potential for all kinds of trouble. Between trying relatives, disasters in the kitchen, overcharged expectations and bad behavior from inebriates and other ne’re do wells, the day can become wrought with stress and unpleasantness. Even the sanest human being can become temporarily unhinged. If you feel yourself dancing that line, please consider one of the following alternatives:
- Skip obligatory gatherings and hanging out with people you don’t like. This right here can circumvent ninety-nine percent of any possible duress. When it comes to holidays, we often act like mindless bobble heads. We nod and commit ourselves to situations without thinking about it, often out of adherence to some kind of “tradition.” I can hear some of you rumbling already: “But we can’t possibly skip Thanksgiving at Aunt Georgia’s house, even if she is an off-the-hook, Bible-verse-spewing racist with bad breath and dirty fingernails.” Sure you can. The momentary discomfort of declining the invitation is far less than the pain of an entire day with this person (or these people). Remember, life is short. Spend your limited time wisely.
- Keep it simple in the kitchen. You don’t have to get your Martha Stewart on or orchestrate some complicated and elaborate feast. It’s too stressful and could end badly. People don’t care if you impress them. They just want to eat with you and enjoy your company. Don’t be that wound-up weirdo losing your grip over the turkey tower with the cranberry reduction and the prosciutto paupiette.
- Move your body. Do yoga. Run on the treadmill. Go for a walk. If at all possible, go outside. Air, light and even rain can invigorate your mind, calm your nerves and refresh your spirit. Deep breaths boost patience.
- If you find yourself trapped in a house with kooky and annoying relatives, focus on any pets in the vicinity. They’ll probably be more interesting and won’t give you near as much grief. If there are no animals around, grab a book and stick your nose in it. Better to be anti-social than caught in a drawn-out, one-sided, too much information-tinged conversation with the family oddball.
- If the table conversation veers towards politics, religion or any other sensitive subjects, try the technique that Seattle Seahawk Marshawn Lynch recently used with the media. It’s brilliant and effective. To see it, go here. (Bonus points if you rock an Elmer Fudd hat while you do it.)
- Music, music, music! Make a Thanksgiving playlist and load it up on your i-Pod. Listen to it while you cook or as you drive to the soiree. If anything starts to go south at any point, bust out with your own personal flash mob. Nothing cuts tension like an unapologetic someone getting his/her funk on in the middle of the kitchen or living room. They’ll either stare at you in disbelief or join in. Either way, you win.
- Be helpful. Cut up vegetables. Wash some dishes. Change a diaper. It’s a wonderful opportunity to practice mindfulness.
- Wear stretch pants or other loose trousers, etc. You’re going to pig out, right? Constrictive clothing will just make you cranky. If you’re physically uncomfortable, any irritants of the day will be even more irritating.
- If you are alone on Thanksgiving, don’t feel sorry for yourself. Take some initiative. Invite someone to be your guest, even if all you do is eat sandwiches and watch football, which actually sounds pretty good to me.
- BE GRATEFUL. Think about what you have and all the things that have gone right on this day. If you woke up with a roof over your head, start there.
MY THANKSGIVING PLAYLIST
Uptown Funk – Mark Ronson w/Bruno Mars
Stuff Like That – Various Artists, Q’s Juke Joint
Get Up (Sex Machine) – James Brown
True Lovin’ Woman – Jack Mack & the Heart Attack
Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin) – Sly & the Family Stone
What About Your Friends – TLC
Funk the Dumb Stuff – Tower of Power
Wide Track – Bootsy Collins
Elube Changó (Son Afro) – Afro Cuban All-Stars
Just a Little Bit – Pinetop Perkins
I Don’t Need No Doctor – Ray Charles
Can’t Tell – Hood Smoke
Don’t Mess Up a Good Thing – Ry Cooder
Yatra Ta – Tania Maria
Soul Brother – Todd Rundgren
With a Little Help From My Friends– Sergio Mendes & Brasil ‘66
P Control – The Artist Formerly Known as Prince (now back to Prince)
Shining Star – Earth, Wind & Fire
Hot Sauce – Thomas Dolby
Shower the People – James Taylor