Navigating Thanksgiving

Now that the sweet potatoes are baking and we've braved the bumper to bumper traffic on the Mass. Pike to Connecticut, I can focus on my strategies for surviving Thanksgiving.

My emotional strategy is fairly straightforward: I just try to steer clear of the family tension and remain a neutral observer. This isn't always easy. I used get into fights with family members during these gatherings — about politics, about child-rearing, about who got yelled at more as a kid. That approach didn't work out well for me. Now I subscribe to a strategy nicely summed up by a psychologist at the Cleveland Clinic quoted in The Plain Dealer this week.

Pretend your family is some strange tribe you've just discovered in the jungle, says the psychologist, Michael McKee. If anger or arguments develop, watch who instigates them, who responds and how.

"Stand back and be the observer," he says. Even better — pretend you are in a "Seinfeld" episode.

So, channeling Elaine, I will step back, not drink too much, befriend the baby carrots and dance with the kids after dinner, knowing that Thanksgiving is finite, and on Friday I'll be back in Cambridge doing hot yoga.

As for CommonHealth, we'll be blogging only sporadically over the long weekend. But we'd love it if you all post your survival strategies here. And enjoy!

This program aired on November 24, 2010. The audio for this program is not available.

Headshot of Rachel Zimmerman

Rachel Zimmerman Reporter
Rachel Zimmerman previously reported on health and the intersection of health and business for WBUR. She is working on a memoir about rebuilding her family after her husband’s suicide. 



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