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Surviving Thanksgiving with family, thankfully

Sierra Countis
Sierra Sun

Thanksgiving is the day designated for families to come together, to enjoy a banquet of food with all the fixin’s, and to give thanks for the people in their lives.

But for some families ” amid conflict, cooking, awkward dinner conversation, and children ” just surviving the holiday becomes the goal of the day.

Families need to remember Thanksgiving is only one day of the year, said Dr. Anita Spencer, clinical psychologist in Truckee.

“Nobody has the perfect family,” Spencer said. Before the festivities begin, she said to ask “How do I want this day to go for me?”

With the commotion of youngsters running around the house, food preparation in the kitchen, and family and friends coming and going, it’s important to focus on the “thanks part of the day,” said Christopher Old, a therapist at Wellspring Counseling Center in Truckee.

Often people forget to take the time to praise others for the things they do well, Old said.

Being really rigid when someone asks if they can help out in the kitchen tends to lead to conflict. Old said family members should be more flexible and just let it go.

“Keep in mind that there’s lots of different ways to do things,” Old said.

Take a break when things become stressful, Spencer said. Play games with children or throw a football around outside to relax, she said.

Spencer also advised watching the alcohol consumption on Thanksgiving, keeping it to one or two glasses of wine, to prevent tipsy family members from initiating unnecessary conflict.

And if there is a long-standing family feud, people need to have realistic expectations because relatives aren’t going to solve long-term disagreements in just one day, she said.

Extended families getting together for the first time can be a nerve-wracking scenario as well. People who are nervous will talk and talk to fill an uncomfortable silence, Old said. Listening is a big communication piece to have a well-balanced conversation, he said, and asking open-ended questions will spark a lively dialogue.

Maintaining a sense of humor and laughter throughout the day will also prevent awkward moments, Old said.


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