5 Ways to Thrive at Thanksgiving

Inject some joy back into the holiday—pesky in-laws and all.

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Each year, Thanksgiving invites us with its promise of gratitude and togetherness. But often if we’re not careful, it ends in gluttony, irritation, conflict, and consumerism. Here’s a few tips to maintain the spirit of the holiday.


Don’t feed your boredom.

Thanksgiving can keep going and going—and going (sigh)—with food of every stripe arrayed in big piles and bowls. It’s been a long month, you’re tired, and maybe feeling out of sorts around in-laws and semi-distant relations. Stuff yourself to fill the gaping void? Don’t. It ends up hurting a lot. Breathe deep instead, and savor every bite you eat.

Dodge the dogfights.

Extended families make strange bedfellows—and tablemates. “Little” Jimmy is now back from college with annoying ideas and a girlfriend he’s slathering over, and tipsy Uncle Elbert (sweet Aunt Jean’s third husband) bellows about how climate change is a bunch of BS. Don’t go there. Deflect conflict. Stick to topics all can agree on. Cute baby, right?

Think generously.

In-laws you never quite clicked with, estranged siblings, relatives who treat you like you’re 12, lengthy bouts of teeny talk, folks whose political views disturb. Ah, such a great opportunity to love one another during this holiday—flaws and all. Our human family is a cornucopia, Celebrate it.

Take a polite portion.

A host is bound to offer you a big bunch of something at some point—their homemade fudge, a face-sized piece of pie, a big fat sweet salty thingamajig. Take a dainty portion, say thanks, and move on. If someone overfills your plate, don’t feel obligated to eat it.

Find quiet time for yourself.

There’s a pull to always be out there with others doing things, but you probably need some rest. Take it. Pause to practice a little mindfulness. Boycott the invitation to make Thanksgiving the start of the buying season. Appreciate the quiet rhythms of nature and some time when you can just be.