Take A Politics Time-Out, And Other Thanksgiving Pro Tips

Thanksgivng: a good day. (Image Credit: Unsplash)

Thanksgivng: a good day. (Image Credit: Unsplash)

That headline is a bit of false advertising, as I am in not quite qualified to proclaim myself a “Thanksgiving Pro.”

We’ve made a turkey all of two times, and by “we,” I mean my husband. I watched while he pulled the gunk out of the innards, washed the bird in the sink, concocted his own scrumptious olive oil-based coating, jimmy-rigged a proper baking pan, and figured out how to cook the dang thing to completion.

My contribution: paranoid and maniacal disinfecting of the sink, post-bird bath.

But in one sense, maybe I am a pro, and that is in my sheer delight during the festivities of Thanksgiving.

Which is not to say I don’t recognize the problems that can arise during this season. In some ways, I’m utterly thrilled not to be home this year with my extended family, given the post-election moment we’re all in, and the fact that many of my more distant relatives are NOT HAPPY about my anti-Trump views. (Important side bar: the feeling is mutual, still love y’all.)

And yet, and yet. There are some real advantages to Thanksgiving, as compared to other holidays. And since I need a break from politics like that White House turkey needs a presidential pardon, I’ll give thanks now for this opportunity to focus on sharing some Thanksgiving tips to help you survive – and thrive! – while you chomp on some deliciousness.

1. Do NOT Talk About Politics.

Right, I said I’d be averting my focus from politics, but first I have to focus on politics. As in, don’t talk about them. Just don’t. There’s a time and place, and maybe that includes the balcony or the bar after dinner ends. Fine. But while you may want to drop some knowledge on this or that family member, there are definitely several dinner guests who really just want to feel some love. Or maybe, they actually NEED to feel love. And that’s hard if two, or four, or ten of you are screaming at each other.

2. Board Game Bonanza.

This is an old family tradition, saved for the dessert and coffee hour. We’ve pulled out Pictionary (always a good time), Taboo (my personal fave), CatchPhrase, and even one year made the sort of hilariously shortsighted choice of Trivial Pursuit (hours and hours later, no winner in sight…). 

Friendly competition is fun. It just is. Throw some pizzazz in the digestion phase of Thanksgiving, you know what I mean? 

Anyway, games with teams are great for big groups. But if it’s just you and your SO or BFF, I highly recommend Backgammon. Especially since you can play whilst watching a movie or something…

3. Macy’s Day Parade, People.

Wake up Thanksgiving morning. Check. Turn on TV to watch giant balloons and lavish floats march through Manhattan. Check.

Holiday décor and vibes in New York City are just impossible to top. It’s like Disney for grownups. With awesome high school bands and B-List celebs belting out tunes while waving like beauty pageant finalists.  

This one is too easy.

4. Get Your Turkey Trot On.

I’ve done a handful of Thanksgiving Day races, some 5Ks, some 10ks, in warm temps and freezing rain-sleet, some when I was in really good running shape, and some when I was in moderately-decent walking shape.

It does not matter. You’re in a big, multi-generational crowd of cheer. Endorphins + holiday = happiness. Participate yourself, or grab an Apple Cider or Hot Cocoa (OR BOTH) and go witness the merriment.

5. Watch The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.

I’m gonna tell you to do this, whether it happens on Thanksgiving or not. Because the soundtrack by Jose Gonzalez ALONE is gorgeous enough to warrant several viewings.

But this story of a quiet, sort of intense, definitely lonely guy getting up the guts to go on a transnational quest is just delightful. The previews never did this movie justice, so if you haven’t seen it yet, now’s the time.

You’ll be mouthing “Thank you, Iceland” for the scenic cinematography, and you’ll be saying “Thank you, Ben Stiller” for directing this epic, while you’re crying tears of joy and beauty while watching Afghanis play soccer atop the world. (Plus: Patton Oswalt cameo!)

6. Feel the Love.

No, really. Do. Feel the love of the people around you. There are people who can’t be home, or don’t have any home to go to… And if you’re one of those people, then know there’s love out here for you too. Volunteer at a homeless shelter and feel the love of those who are often forgotten around us.

If you find yourself in a home, surrounded by people who are not trying to murder you, give thanks for that. We’re not in a world war right now. Bombs aren’t falling over our cities. That’s a reality for some of our fellow people the world over. So feel the peace, too.

We’re blessed on Thanksgiving.

7. Go for a Walk, Alone or With Company.

Maybe you’re like me, and the decorations that go up on/immediately after Thanksgiving are just one more reason to love this day.

Or maybe you’re also like me, in that sometimes you need a serious break from socializing.

Take a walk. There are an infinity of excuses you can make up, from needing to take a call, to having something to check on in the car, to simply saying, “Oh hey family, friends. I need to take a walk. Be back later.”

Whatever you do, please don’t forget to be thankful. It’s an act of love to find gratitude in this life, and that we have a day set aside for just that is a gift, in and of itself.

I’ll give you a freebie: at least you didn’t have to stress about what gifts to buy for whom, wrap them all up, then watch in a state of apprehension to see whether or not you chose wisely. Right? Thanksgiving for that!

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