Grateful for imperfection
We all know that there's no such thing as a "perfect Thanksgiving"-- right? While I still know some folks who exhaust themselves trying to create not only the perfect, elegant dinner spread, but the perfect, harmonious family time, I also know that many of them are completely exhausted when their efforts are done. So... here are some tips for surviving, nay, thriving, during the holiday:
-Give up the illusion of perfection. Life is messy. People are messy. You're a mess. Thanksgiving is a time for grace, not impossibly high standards. Grace. The knowledge that we are loved and forgiven even as the messes we are. What more could we possibly be thankful for?
-Pre-forgive. You already know who's going to throw the verbal jab, or try to bait you into an acrimonious political discussion, or subtly guilt trip you. You already know who isn't going to help with the dishes, or who's going to tell the off-color joke at the table. Forgive them before you even see them. (see previous statement about grace, above).
--Listen. Even if you don't agree with what's being said, even if it's a long-winded family member who goes on and on with seemingly no point, listening is a loving gift that you give to the other person. It reduces defensiveness in confrontations, it lets people feel heard and understood, and it builds connection and empathy.
-Be Thankful. It seems obvious, but how often do we really sit down and practice active, sincere gratitude? We even had to build in a holiday to remind ourselves to do it. Set aside time to practice gratitude for the blessings of this life. Practice gratitude for the messiness, for the imperfection.