You love your family and friends and you’ve traveled hundreds (or thousands) of miles from your duty station to be with them, but they don’t all see eye-to-eye. Try these tips for taking the stress out of the holidays and keeping the peace at your Thanksgiving table.
- Make politics and gossip off limits at the table. Being in the military and moving often means our friends and families come from widely diverse backgrounds. Some are great at listening to discussions with differing opinions, others are not. It’s just safer to avoid controversial topics and gossip at the dinner table. Make a mental list of safe conversation starters/gossip interrupters such as:
- Ask everyone to share one personal goal they are working toward in the next year.
- Share about your favorite trip or event of the past year and ask others to do the same.
- Try “would you rather,” which can get as silly or as deep as those playing. A silly example is: Would you rather be trapped in an elevator for two days with a floor filled with rotten sardines or your worst enemy? Let your imagination run wild!
- Focus on what you’re thankful for. Whether you are hosting the main meal or traveling to it, consider bringing a round of gratitude to the table. Give everyone an opportunity to share what they are most thankful for. Another twist on this is to focus on one person at a time and have everyone say what they are most thankful for about each person at the table. You won’t regret this — it’s a wonderful way to make positive memories with family and friends.
- Get physical. Before the food coma takes full effect, head outside after dinner for a family walk, hike or a game of whiffle ball, kickball or touch football. Pick something everyone can participate in for some good old-fashioned fun. Then go take that much-needed nap!
- Set goals for next year. Have a family huddle before everyone heads out and talk about what you want to do next year. What traditions do you love that you can’t live without? Which new things did you try this year that you want to bring into your next holiday? Maybe you want to provide a meal for a family in need or find volunteer opportunities that you can do as a group before the next holiday. Spending quality time building on your family relationships while helping others can be a solid way to bring peace to you and to your family, not to mention the joy you all will bring to those you are helping.
Bringing peace to your Thanksgiving dinner by sharing your gratitude and love with your family and friends can start with you – so make a point to give it a try this year.