Thanksgiving Survival Manual

Listen to this 'Talk of the Nation' topic

I want to preface this by saying that I adore my family — I'm very close to them, I think they're marvelous in almost all ways, and I would probably wither and expire if I were forced to spend a Thanksgiving away from them. In fact, that's why I'm far from the offices of TOTN as I write this — I'm away in Massachusetts, setting the table and watching my father haze my boyfriend. Again. However, there are a few things I've learned over the years, that make all the inevitable vicissitudes of family easier to bear when you're spending several days with them.

1) Have a means of escape. Rent that car. It's worth it. And always volunteer when you run out of milk or eggnog to get more. Those little breaks are essential.

2) Don't mention politics until you've finished the first course. It's only polite, and by that time, there's likely been enough wine imbibed that you can be forgiven for any passion in that arena.

3) Bring a friend. The presence of a pal acts like social cartilage — chances are you'll get less uncomfortable questions about grandchildren (or lack thereof), job prospects, or your choice of hosiery.

4) Be willing to let some things go. If you simply can't explain a "podcast" to your grandfather — ask him to explain the "wireless."

5) Be thankful. You're lucky to have them, foibles and all.

I have to run — the table still needs setting. You finish the manual. How do you survive family over the holidays?



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Regarding Thanksgiving or holiday meals: My mother used to call a few days prior to the event and ask 'who is coming?' I would always reply that not everyone had confirmed yet. Then she would say something to the effect of: "Well is (fill in name) is coming then I won't be there". I mustered all my strength say "then you'll be missed". Although she didn't say she would be there, she showed up anyway.

Thanks and Happy Thanksgiving.

Sent by Ava | 2:31 PM | 11-22-2007

The new movie "Dan in Real Life" depicts a family gathering that my husband and I found truly inspiring. Activities rather than meals were what made it feel "traditional" to this fictional family. A crossword tournament where all the females competed with all the males (my late mother-in-law would have loved that!); most of the family doing morning aerobics to fun upbeat music because one of the sons is an aerobics teacher; board games; talent night with every one especially children doing some small was fun to watch. I also noticed that there were places where people could escape to to get a break from the crowd and it was acceptable to be absent for a while. I felt envious! Too many of our gatherings were centered on TV football games and booze, to the point where the meal was virtually a buffet.

Sent by Carol Long | 2:44 PM | 11-22-2007

Thanksgiving is a very special holiday b/c my very dear grandfather was born on Thanksgiving day 1919. He passed away on his birthday in 2005. I don't have to do anything special to remember him today, his jolly, warm spirit is with me always, but especially as I eat the foods we both treasured so much. As long as I enjoy good food, even if I am not in good company physically, Gramps is with me and I am happy.

Sent by seb, richmond, va | 2:48 PM | 11-22-2007

Giving Thanks, real thanks. I'm all alone in my little one bedroom apartment,the sun is shining, having a cup of coffee and a chocolate donut, happily divorced, away from in laws, family, long drives, squabbles with the wife...It doesn't get any better!

Sent by jim | 2:49 PM | 11-22-2007

My husband died following a 20 year battle with depression one month ago today. We had planned to join my entire family in Chicago for a Thanksgiving gathering that would bring family back together after some estrangement.

As it turns out, his death got everyone together and enjoying each other well before Thanksgiving...he ensured it as they HAD to support me.

I am not in the frame of mind to travel, but I will be celebrating with friends and toasting to my family, to my husband's memory, the joys he brought to my life, and his valiant struggle with life.

Sent by Elaine Barnes | 2:52 PM | 11-22-2007

regarding recording your radio broadcast: for many years I have used my stereo video recorder connected to my receiver with the audio patch cables. It works great and you can get many hours on a regular video tape. Not digital, but very good analog quality.

Sent by susan webber | 3:30 PM | 11-22-2007

We just played Ticket to Ride, a board games, and had a blast, sitting chatting and having some pie. The TV was on in the background with the football games but no one seemed to mind/care. And the babies took a long nap, so that always helps!

Sent by Christian | 8:10 PM | 11-22-2007