I just saw an ad for Hallmark Thanksgiving cards. At first I thought it was a typo, so I Googled it and according to Hallmark, Inc. 17 million Thanksgiving cards are sent each year: 63% are given to family and 23% go to friends. This years’ selection includes audio cards with “We Are Family” by Sister Sledge, “Another One Bites the Dust” by Queen, and the NFL “Heavy Action” theme.
What happened to getting together with family and friends for a wonderful meal, connection with each other, and a chance to count our blessings? The media and the marketplace are saying that is not enough. You must serve a gargantuan meal, preceded by plenty of snacks to eat while the turkey is in the oven. All so we can eat ourselves to the point of feeling ill. But wait, there is more!
Not only do you have to cook a gourmet meal, you have to clean the house to spotlessness and then decorate it. Your dining table and coffee table and mantelpiece must be festooned with seasonal garlands and candles and figurines.
Now Hallmark, Inc is just one of thousands of companies that want you to do more and spend more for this once quiet holiday. You have a choice. You do not have to get caught up in this madness.
You want to make connection with family and friends the focus of the day/weekend. Make the meal and the day simpler for you. Take the pressure off yourself and Keep it Simple.
Clean your house, yes, but it does not have to be perfect. Martha Stewart will not be making a personal inspection of your home.
Make Thanksgiving a pot-luck meal. Simplify your menu and ask people to bring side dishes and desserts. If Uncle Stanley absolutely must have a particular dish, then he, or his wife Aunt Millie, can bring it. Just let everyone know in advance your kitchen is only available for pot luck warm up, not for food preparation. Share the culinary glory and the work.
Simplify your decorations. If you have grandchildren or nieces and nephews – ask them to bring the decorations. A hand-print turkey or drawing of the Pilgrims and the Indians is the best decoration. A few well placed candles – on your dining table and/or mantel – can add to the coziness of the occasion. If you have little ones running around, then forget the candles. Simply pull out the kitschy turkey salt and pepper shakers you got years ago and leave it at that. Remember, décor is to support a feeling of warmth and fond memories, not to create a “Wow reaction.”
Whether you have a family you truly enjoy or one that you can only tolerate, give yourself some time away from all the people and activity. Go for a walk before or after the meal; or the day after. Find a quiet corner to read, or take a nap – you deserve it.
The focus is connection with those you love. This is not a competition. The perfect food and the perfect décor will not make this a perfect holiday. You are not responsible for the happiness of others. We all make our own happiness. Take care of yourself: “If mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.” (I say this because most of my readers are women. But this applies to men too.)
And remember – after Thanksgiving you have only 29 days until the next blow-out holiday extravaganza: Christmas! And, only six days until the first day of Chanukah. More on that in next month’s news letter.
Now I will step-down from my soap-box. 😉
Have a Happy and Sane Thanksgiving!