Blessed are the holidays!
The travel. The stress. The expectations — met and unmet.
The booze. The food. The family. And friends.
The love. The “hate.” The somewhere in between.
Here’s a guide to surviving Thanksgiving wherever you find yourself.
1) Toasting, it’s not just for weddings. If you’re gathered around the Thanksgiving table together, talk about it. Offer up your toasts to the chef, welcome the newcomers, recount the year, remember those who are gone, tell a funny story. Be silly, be serious, be involved. Toasting turns dinner into an active event. Maybe it feels a little silly, but a little performance art can bring you all together. Besides, it’s always OK to say something nice about someone else.
2) Assign seats. Mix it up. Put Blowhard Bob next to Aunt Why-I-Never. It’ll be good for both of them. And it’ll give everyone else something to talk about.
3) If you are going to talk politics, limit it to kitchen table issues — such as, what’s on the kitchen table.
4) No phones at the table, but forget about the “bans.” If the kids want to SnapFace (as Coach Bill Belichick might say) before the main event, let them. You don’t want them in the kitchen, they don’t want to sit there quietly while the “grown-ups talk.” Let there be peace in the valley and faces warmed by a tiny, glowing screen.
Corollary 4-1: By all means, take a picture of that fabulous spread. Celebrate it. Post it. Brag about it. I want to see that golden bird and all those smiling faces.
Corollary 4-2: Watch the parade, turn on the football game, put the music on before the meal, light the candles, sing out loud. Thanksgiving is a dinner party, not a dirge.
5) When someone asks you how you’re doing, just lie: “I’m doing great! If I was any better, I couldn’t stand myself.” Hopefully, you’re with the people you love; they care and want to know about your life. My knee hurts, too. Save it for Sunday.
6) The youngest at the table get the right of first refusal on the drumsticks. For God’s sake, think of the children.
7) Go ahead, unbutton that button. You’re mother-in-law was at your wedding. She’s seen worse — even if you don’t remember.
8) Remember the wisdom of Homer Simpson: “To alcohol! The cause of — and solution to — all of life’s problems!” Alcohol can be the elixir of wisdom, the lubricant of laughter, the elicitor of arms-on-shoulders scream singing of “Living on a Prayer.” But it can also be the bringer of tears, the smack of hands on tables, the trip on the stairs. Take it easy on the booze, don’t drink and drive, and be respectful of those who don’t imbibe.
9) Ping pong and Catch Phrase are not contact sports.
10) Full bellies, empty glasses and long, stressful days tell us everything we need to know. Nothing good is going to happen after midnight (especially not on Black Friday). Go to bed!
11) When burning that MAGA hat, be sure not to accidentally set the garage on fire. Safety first.
12) Talk less, listen more. Everyone has a story to tell; hear them while you have a chance.
13) There’s always room at the table for one more.
14) Love one another. It’s not always easy. No one ever promised that it would be. Hug. Kiss. Turn the other cheek.
And finally, one last bit of advice for surviving the holidays: Don’t eat stuffing cooked in the bird. For the love of all that is holy, you’re flirting with disaster. Cook that stuffing in a casserole dish, get it nice and crispy, and leave the worry of salmonella or E. coli behind.
Plus, it just tastes better!
So raise a glass to the cooks and the drivers, the long-distance travelers and the wood stackers, to old friends and new friends and social media friends, to those who are with us and to those who aren’t, to memories and laughs, to good stories and better lies, to all the things that bring us together.