Carl's Latest Blog
Make A Holiday Wish -- Your Family's On Its Way
This time of year reminds me of a joke I heard in graduate school. We’d missed a week of classes because of an ice storm. My professor welcomed us back by asking, “Did you have fun . . . at home for a week . . . locked up with your families?!?”
We laughed, but only because he was right. Many students did feel like they survived a week with people who drove them nuts.
Well, welcome to November. Thanksgiving is a few weeks away, and your family’s already making plans to visit. Maybe it’s time to make plans to survive not only turkey day, but all the ho-ho-hos in December, too.
I shouldn’t make it sound like a chore. Many of us love spending time with our families, and even when the occasional odd cousin or slobbering uncle comes around, we learn to make due. We silently agree not to argue about which type of stuffing is better, whether to watch football or chick flicks, religion (trickier at Christmas and Hanukkah), and politics. (Trust me, debating the effectiveness of Obamacare doesn’t go down smoother with egg nog.)
But there will be times, even with people you love, that you’ll be tempted to pound someone with a drumstick. Here are a few tips to help you avoid assault with a turkey leg:
-- Share the work. Many families dump most of the cooking on the host, often because that person “always cooks Thanksgiving dinner.” And these people (often referred to as Grandma) seem to love that. But why should one person wrestle with the turkey, mash the potatoes, bake the pies, boil cranberries, churn butter … well, you get the idea. If people offer to bring something, let them. It takes stress off you. If you’re the guest, bring along a pie or side dish.
-- Be patient. The larger your group, the more potential for people to be late. Don’t be that person who announces, “Everyone knows we eat at one!” and then announces it again at 1:30, 2:00, and 3:45. That just stresses everyone out. And if you’re running late, let someone know. Heck, you might even tell them to start without you; someone will save you some turkey.
-- Avoid topics that’ve been talked to death, resurrected, and then killed again without resolution. If you haven’t worked it out before, why try when everyone’s distracted by the smell of turkey and someone’s bellowing, “Everyone knows we eat at one!” (If you really can’t resolve an issue, try family therapy. You’ll be thankful you did.)
-- This is good advice anytime: Don’t gossip about each other. Ben Franklin said, “Three people keep a secret if two of them are dead.” It’s a good bet that what you say in the kitchen while mashing potatoes will filter to the karaoke group in the garage within an hour.
-- Try not to take anything too seriously. So what if there are lumps in the gravy, or the meringue won’t fluff, or the seating chart is off? You’re there to enjoy a meal, not to get a positive rating from Urbanspoon.
If all of this fails, if you find yourself so stressed that you just have to pound something, try this deep breathing exercise. Breathe in slowly through the nose, pause for a second, then slowly – so slowly that it feels like blowing out a birthday candle in slow motion – exhale through your mouth. Repeat as many times as needed to keep you from braining somebody with the gravy ladle.