Before we get to the meat of the article, let's take a moment to recognize that a lot of this holiday is propaganda... Here is an article about the Wampanoag side of the story from the online indigenous news outlet "Indian Country Today". Here is an article from the New York Times about how inaccurate and white-washed the stories most of us were taught are. I would encourage you to read both of them.
For me, Thanksgiving is a time to slow down, remember to be thankful, and eat some good food with family or friends! Of course, for many, spending time with family is a double edged sword. While we grow and change often our families refuse to recognize that and we find ourselves falling back into our old patterns. Too frequently we use alcohol or other substances to "cope" with the stress of spending a bunch of time with our families.
My first suggestion applies to everything: take a breath! When something is said or done and you find yourself becoming defensive take a deep breath instead of firing off a response or reaching for a glass of wine. Maybe that was enough and you can just let it go and move one. Maybe not. If not, excuse yourself. Go to another room- or the bathroom- and take a minute to breath and repeat a positive mantra like: "I can be peaceful in a storm". Do not stew and think of a response.
If there is one person in particular that you are struggling with try to think about a positive aspect of them. Or, pinpoint what it is that you are finding frustrating and mentally thank them for the lesson. Here is an article about dealing with toxic family members which could provide you with more tools and insights.
Limiting your time can also be helpful- don't spend the night or a week. Get a hotel room or an AirBnB so that you have your own refuge. Remember: you can control your own actions and reactions but you can't change other people's actions. It can be hard to accept people as they are but it is the only reality. Is your family toxic? Here is an article that you might find helpful.
It is also okay to say no! If you think that going to an event, family or otherwise, for the holidays is a threat to your mental health or sobriety then you should stay home and do something nice for yourself. If you are supposed to host and realize that you don't have the help that you need to keep your sanity then cancel. Try to do it ahead of time so that people have time to make other plans.
Be honest to yourself about your needs! Too often we are trying to meet some standard of "having it all" and I am telling you to give yourself permission to opt out. Have peace instead. Try the app "Insight Timer". I particularly like Sarah Blondin and she has a great meditation that only takes a few minutes and is about giving yourself permission.
If you are going to Thanksgiving and wondering how to fill the time before or after dinner (because not everyone wants to watch football) I recommend "John Leguizamo's Latin History for Morons" on Netflix. Not about the Wampanoag and Pilgrims but similar theme and really well done.
What are you thankful for?
Kelsey enjoys researching and discussing. These posts are based on her research and are open for discussion! Enjoy! (For the record the credit for the title goes to one of Kelsey's favorite authors: Douglas Adams).