Part I, Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is around the corner. As soon as it arrives, Christmas is right behind. The holiday season can be joyous, depressing or disastrous or a mixture of any or all of these feelings. Regardless, it is a stressful time for individual, family, friends and coworkers filled with implications.

Although Thanksgiving is technically a one day event, over the years it has changed to several days or even a week. It is not just dinner but what leads up to that day and what follows. People travel from all parts of the country to be with relatives and close friends. It is the busiest time for travel for both airports and road. Just the mere fact of trying to get from one place to another can be extremely taxing. Purchasing airline tickets in advance can be a great financial savings. Choosing to extend your vacation can allow flexibility for travel well worth the money saved and avoiding the turmoil of crowds. Black Friday shopping is frazzling, not always worth the bargains you get that day. Keep in mind that there will be many more sales and perhaps, even better bargains during the days leading up to Christmas.

It is a great deal of work to host a Thanksgiving dinner party. Reduce the effort by asking your guests to be involved in meal preparation and set up. For example, ask certain people to bring side dishes or beverages and others to arrive early to set the table. Do the same for serving and clean up. Keep in mind that most people are glad to help but you will likely have to make your expectation known.

Above and beyond everything, the most important question to ask yourself is whether or not you truly want to spend this time of year with whomever you are planning on being with. Are you doing it because it is “expected”? Would you rather be doing something else? Are you worried that the family chaos might be overwhelming? Are you feeling pressure to attend? If you answered yes to one or more of these, you might want to rethink your plan. The party on the other side might be feeling the same way and could feel relieved if you backed out. Even if they seem disappointed, that momentary exchange will dissipate. Your guilt will be replaced by a sense of calm and freedom. Consider your needs first and everything else will fall into place. Take charge and this can be the best Thanksgiving ever.

Look for Part 2, Christmas to follow.