Thanksgiving Is For Thanks. Not Drama

Happy Thanksgiving

Reasons you might be dreading Thanksgiving:

1. Your entire family is having Thanksgiving together, while you’re stuck at your in-laws house because it’s “their turn” to have you and your husband for the holiday.

2. The guy you thought was the one decided to dump you and now you have to explain to your entire family why he’s not there.

3. Your mom never fails to seat you next to the uncle who gives you the creeps with his bad stories, bad breath and bad drinking habits.

These are all Thanksgiving Day nightmares that could have you saying, “Please help me, God,” instead of “Thank you, God” as you try to enjoy what’s supposed to be a fantastic day of families, food, fun and football.

Here are a few potentially difficult Thanksgiving scenarios, along with my advice on how to handle them, and how to make your Thanksgiving day a day you’ll truly be thankful for.

First Thanksgiving after divorce:

I recently met a woman who I’ll call “Sara” who is in the middle of a divorce after 20 years of marriage. I asked her how she was, and the look on her face made me want to cry.

“I asked Todd if he wanted to have dinner with the kids and I on Thanksgiving and he replied, ‘I can’t. Thanksgiving is very important to my girlfriend, so I’ll be spending it with her.’”

What I realized right then is that Sara hadn’t let go of the fact that her marriage was over, and that her ex moved on. She was perhaps subconsciously hoping that the holidays would reignite a spark between them and that they’d reconcile.

Here’s what I told Sara. I told her that Thanksgiving is a time for families and that she should take the day to enjoy spending time with her family and with her children, and just appreciate them and have fun with them. I also told her I’d be willing to bet that next Thanksgiving, her ex will be broken up and she’ll have just started dating someone new. Doesn’t life always work that way?

Meeting your guy’s parents:

There is nothing scarier than meeting your new boyfriend’s parents, especially if it’s at a big holiday celebration like Thanksgiving or Christmas. Will they like me? What if they think I’m not good enough for their son? What if I say something stupid? What if I accidentally burp loudly in the middle of Thanksgiving dinner? What if they find out I never graduated from College? What if I slip and they realize I voted for Romney? The potential nightmare scenarios can drive you nuts! Here’s my advice: JUST BE YOU.

Be that sweet, kind, funny, genuine person that you are and no one can ever take that away from you. If they don’t like you then who cares? Maybe it isn’t a good fit. Because trust me, if you marry your guy, you’ll be spending lots more Thanksgivings with his family, and if you don’t get along with them, how NOT fun is that?!

JUST BE YOU. And when you relax and be yourself, chances are, they will love you! PS. Don’t forget to bring a really nice gift. A box of fancy chocolate, a gift basket of coffee and tea, or a basket of soaps and lotions are all nice choices. Don’t bring wine. Trust me.

He’s going to be there?!

He was the love of your life. When he broke up with you, you could barely function for months.  You loved loved loved him, and he truly broke your heart. Now, a friend of a friend of a friend just got him invited to the same Thanksgiving dinner you’re going to.

My gut feeling on this matter is to make a joke and say, “Well, at least you won’t be overeating, since you’ll be so upset you’ll probably be unable to eat.” Seriously, though, this could potentially be a very upsetting situation. Handled correctly, however, it will turn into a great night.

Here are my suggestions. This sort of goes without saying, but make sure you look absolutely fantastic. The hair, the makeup, the outfit,  the accessories, it all has to look dashing! Next, BE NICE. Not overly, nauseatingly sweet to the point where he knows it’s fake, and not curt and short and borderline rude. Somewhere in the middle is appropriate. Tell yourself he’s an old friend who you once cared about, and that just like you treat all your friends, you will treat him in a nice way. Be the bigger person and be as sweet as can be. But not too sweet, so he thinks you are trying to get back together. And, if he asks you out, absolutely say no! Say, “After everything that’s happened it’s probably not a good idea. But thanks anyhow, I think you’re a lovely person.” Then, kiss his cheek gently and move on and away from him. I guarantee, he’ll be calling you within a week!

Lastly, have one girlfriend there who knows the story, so you can lean on her for support. Her kind winks from across the room, your short meetings in the restroom, and your car ride home will make your night bearable, enjoyable even. A good girlfriend will help you through it.

In all of these scenarios, just remember that Thanksgiving is about giving thanks. Thanks for our health, our families, our friends, the food on the table, and the many other wonderful gifts we have in our lives. The relationship drama can wait. That stuff goes on all year round.

Happy Thanksgiving!


Jackie Pilossoph

Jackie Pilossoph is the author of FREE GIFT WITH PURCHASE and two other novels. She is also a freelance magazine writer and weekly newspaper columnist. Pilossoph holds a Masters degree in Communication from Boston University. She lives in Chicago and is working on her fourth novel.