I don’t excel in the kitchen. No magnificently stuffed, basted and roasted turkey will ever emerge from my seldom-used oven to my gleaming Lenox serving platter – unless someone else makes it.

I must confess, I am more interested in what goes on around the table rather than what dishes get placed on it.

So, here are some suggestions for a memorable, enjoyable and richly textured Thanksgiving experience:

Cultivate a Thanksgiving Frame of Mind

Compose a handwritten note of thanks to a few people who have extended to you the gift of kindness in the past year.

“Fill your car with frozen turkeys and cart them down to a local food bank to be distributed,” suggests my friend Joyce. “I do this a couple of days before Thanksgiving. And I stuff boxes there as well. I feel good, and it enables the family receiving the food to celebrate Thanksgiving too.”

Once around the table:

Recall Past Holiday Dinners

One of my more outrageous friends, whose identity will remain hidden, boldly suggests sitting around the table and recalling “Disasters of Thanksgivings Past.” With a twinkle in her eye, she cautions me that only those with a well-endowed sense of humor and tolerant of some good-natured ribbing should attempt this.

Grandma burning the turkey to a crisp. Or Willy and his wild sons knocking over the entire Thanksgiving dessert table while tossing a Nerf football over it.

Create Diversion

“My family fights over everything,” another friend, who will remain nameless, admits. “We always need diversion to prevent arguments from flaring up.” So, they have solved the problem with establishing a family tradition – exchanging gifts at Thanksgiving.  

Basically, each year a different person is designated to manage the event. It’s in his responsibility to decide who’s buying a gift for whom. Having received the respective name, each person then goes book-shopping.  

Everyone is required to wrap the book and present it to the receiver with a note explaining the particular choice. “It’s fun and prevents much dreaded smoldering family resentments to inflame – at least until the meal is over.”

Nostalgia May Help Lift the Mood

“Take a group picture before the food courses commence – and add it to a collage of group pictures, which get displayed each year. It’s hysterical to see how people age,” my friend Nina remarks wickedly. “And great motivation for pre-Thanksgiving dieting.”

Gratitude Should Be Allowed

In movies we’ve seen people talk about their gratitude, but how many practice it in real life? “Go around the table and ask each person to talk BRIEFLY about one thing they are grateful/thankful for,” suggests Gail.

We Want to Feel the Thanksgiving Spirit

Remember the disconcerting scene from the movie Avalon produced by Barry Levinson? One brother yells at the other, “You cut the turkey without me!”

Remember the quote written by Oscar Wilde: “After a good dinner, one can forgive anybody, even one’s own relations”?

Let’s face it. We wait to cut the turkey until all guests have arrived. We make sure the food is delectable. Still, there can be folks seated around our Thanksgiving table that we just can’t stand. How do we get through the meal without a major meltdown? Knife fight? Or hair pulling ruckus?

How to Avoid Meltdown When Nothing Else Works

Here’s a list of suggestions from me – a self-proclaimed know-it-all who sports absolutely no professional qualifications:

  • Lower your expectations;
  • Dwell on the positive;
  • Don’t look for a slight – or you’ll be sure to find one;
  • Listen more than talk;
  • Avoid expounding on religion, Donald Trump and impeachment issues.

And if things heat-up, pop open another bottle of wine and slug away.

Happy Turkey Day and keep preserving your bloom!

What do you do when things get heated up around the Thanksgiving table? Do you have a special someone in your family who always manages to create chaos? What distractions have you tried to lift the mood? Please share in the comments below!

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