Thanksgiving 2023: How to Navigate for a Favorable Time with Family


Summary: Did you know that Thanksgiving Day is a high-stress time for most people? Think of it this way. Family dynamics can be as diverse as the food on the table. Navigating family interactions during this holiday requires a delicate balance of understanding, communication, and patience.

Dear Dr. Sylvia,

I need help with the right mindset for Turkey Day this year.

Firstly, most of my family is voting for a vegan meal. This is causing conflict.

Those who say they will not join us unless we have the traditional turkey, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, creamed spinach, and pumpkin pie are being more vocal than usual about what they want and what they think is fair.

I do not care about the food; we can have enough options for folks to choose what they want.

For example, here is a fun “song” at the end of an old blog of yours, and it is so like my family I had to smile.

Thus, I am more concerned about the talk related to politics, war, Native American rights, and diversity issues.

Our family will go to right/wrong, yes/no, good/bad, and end up with people choosing this or that camp and becoming very antagonistic.

The complex tapestry of family relationships shows up at the Thanksgiving table.

Thus, I hope to get the extended family to discuss what they hope will make their personal lives more joyful.

That means they can hopefully appreciate and enjoy each other, at least for one dinner.

Can you give some ideas that will lead us in the right direction?


No Gobble Degook

Dear Gobble Degook,

Did you know the word gobbledygook was coined over 80 years ago to mean using long, pompous, vague words?

Thus, there is no jargon here (if I can help it).

Let’s explore the intricacies of family dynamics during Thanksgiving, offering insights, tips, and strategies to foster harmony and create lasting, positive memories.

Families are complex ecosystems, each member contributing a unique thread to the tapestry of relationships.

Understanding the dynamics within your family is the first step to navigating Thanksgiving successfully. Let’s explore individuals’ roles, from the splitter to the clown, from the pleaser to the super achiever, and how acknowledging and appreciating how these roles can change can contribute to a more harmonious celebration.

Above all, I would like to gift you my list of the 13 most common ingrained family patterns that can be transformed for adult success. Go to the contact page at Ask, and you shall receive!

For example, the pleaser becomes a truth-teller, the clown becomes a humorist, etc.

It is vital to set realistic expectations for this “togetherness day.”

Thanksgiving often comes with a set of expectations, both realistic and idealized.

Recognizing and setting realistic expectations can help alleviate stress and prevent disappointment.

Everyone is responsible for managing expectations and acknowledging that no family is perfect, and conflicts may arise. Adjusting expectations to create a more positive and enjoyable experience for everyone is helpful.

Effective communication is the cornerstone of navigating family dynamics. Strategies for expressing thoughts and feelings respectfully and fostering an environment where everyone feels heard facilitate smoother interactions during Thanksgiving gatherings.

Take a deep breath before attempting to handle conflicts with grace.

Conflicts are nearly inevitable in any family gathering. The key is not to avoid them but to navigate them with grace and understanding.

The key includes choosing the right time and place, using “I” statements, and seeking common ground.

It works to embrace differences and celebrate diversity.

Families are comprised of individuals with unique perspectives, beliefs, and lifestyles. Thanksgiving is an excellent opportunity to embrace these differences and celebrate the diversity within your family.

Therefore, the leaders (i.e., adults in the room) are the ones to model agreeing to disagree without making others feel “less than.”

Create positive traditions that can live on long after the food is digested.

Thanksgiving traditions go beyond the menu and decorations; they also include how family members interact and engage with one another. From shared activities to collaborative meal preparation, these traditions can become a source of joy and connection, fostering a sense of togetherness during the holiday.

Recognize and respect boundaries with clarity and respect.

Respecting personal boundaries is essential for maintaining healthy family relationships. Limitations pertain to personal space, sensitive topics, or differing preferences. Understanding and communicating these boundaries can contribute to a more respectful and considerate Thanksgiving celebration.

Include Everyone in the Celebration.

Thanksgiving is a time for inclusivity, ensuring every family member feels valued and appreciated. It’s vital to consider dietary restrictions, involve all age groups in activities, and foster a sense of belonging for every family member, contributing to a more positive and memorable Thanksgiving experience.

Here are a few interesting questions you can all ponder and answer.

  1. Make up a law everyone must follow. What would it be and why?
  2. What do you wish you could do that will make you famous?
  3. Where would you live if money were no object? What makes this area so unique for you?

Here is a website for more ideas.

The Role of humor and lightness is often overlooked when family stress is high.

Humor has the power to diffuse tension and bring joy to family gatherings. How can you bring lightheartedness and find moments of levity? There is great value in using laughter to strengthen family bonds.

Here’s a “sort of “joke you can use:

“What’s the difference between a turkey and a chicken?Chickens can celebrate Thanksgiving!”

More jokes for you to pick and choose from.

Reflect on Gratitude and Appreciation during this time with family/friends.

In conclusion, Thanksgiving is, at its core, a celebration of gratitude. Encouraging a spirit of thankfulness can shift the focus from potential conflicts to the positive aspects of family relationships, fostering an environment of love and appreciation.

Navigating family dynamics during Thanksgiving requires a thoughtful and proactive approach. Want to learn more? Read “Don’t Bring It To Work.” It offers many ways to see, hear, and feel the core issues families contend with in all areas of the globe.

By understanding the complexity of family relationships, setting realistic expectations, communicating openly, and embracing diversity, you can create an atmosphere of harmony and unity.

As you gather around the Thanksgiving table, remember that the true meaning of the holiday lies not only in the feast but in the connections and relationships that make the celebration truly special.

Take what you learn about yourself and how you handle stress to th other 364 days of your life. You’ll be glad you did.

Here’s to your success,

Sylvia Lafair

PS. Do you want to know the 13 most common ingrained behavior patterns you learned in childhood that show up when stress hits your hot-button adult life? Go to contact page. Ask for the 13 patterns from childhood and their transformation. We will send a complimentary copy to your email.

Creative Energy Options

Sylvia Lafair

Creative Energy Options