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Give thanks! (and serve wine!)

November 30, 2011

The Thanksgiving feast is hours away.  Are you looking forward to it?  Overwhelmed with a sense of dread?

Growing up, I think everyone on my Mom’s side of the family always prepped for the worst.  No one wanted to be the one that made Grandma cry.  She usually did anyway, but we tried.  When she cried, Mom was mad because someone made her cry.  It wasn’t completely miserable, but you get the point.  Everyone behave, and no one gets hurt.

That side of the family has changed and moved apart over the years, so I vowed that I wouldn’t stress out during the holiday seasons.  I’m not always calm, cool, and perfectly collected, but there are a few things I keep in mind to maintain a Zen-like mentality.

Feeling frazzled?  Take a deep breath (and a pull from the bourbon bottle) and try to stay focused.

Burn the turkey?  Doesn’t matter.  Unless you are entertaining the president himself, Thanksgiving should be pressure free.  You may have family members who act like royalty, but who’s doing the cooking here?  Sure, Thanksgiving is all about the food, but the world won’t end if the turkey isn’t perfect.  Just order some Chinese wings and call it a day.  You know they’re open.  Plus, you’ll have a great story to tell next year.

Keep the scheduling to a minimum.  We’re all on vacation, and many of us have traveled a long way to “enjoy” forced family fun.   No one wants to have to stress about being to such and such a place for fear of upsetting anyone.

If someone’s late, get over it.  I can’t stand being tardy, but it happens sometimes.  What does it really matter if they miss trying your famous pumpkin cheese ball?  Be glad, even thankful, for every person who is there.  Many people can’t be with their families at all.

Serve mashed potatoes instead of rice.  Mashed potatoes are much better than rice.

Stock up on alcohol.  You may not drink, but it’s unreasonable to assume that all of your guests want to teetotal as well.  I’m not suggesting that you have a fully stocked open bar (though you wouldn’t hear me complaining if you did).  A bottle or two of wine or champagne chilled in the fridge will keep people a little more relaxed.

Don’t judge anyone who gets a little tipsy.  If they’re being nice, who cares?  Besides, if they get drunk and embarrass themselves, it’ll take the pressure off of you.   In years to come, everyone will talk about them instead of your burned turkey.

Though I occasionally miss some of the folks from my Mom’s side of the family, I don’t miss the pressure for the perfect holiday.  I don’t miss the tears and frustration because my cousin yelled “dammit!” when he dropped his bread plate.  Remember that whole part about upsetting Grandma?  She wasn’t a fan of cussing.

What’s the big deal?  It’s simple.  Get together.  Get along.  Don’t pass judgment.  Pass the dinner rolls. Eat, drink, and be merry.  There isn’t a second chance for all of this.  At our house however, there will be plenty of bloody marys.

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