Plan ahead to keep peace at the Thanksgiving table

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

If you look around at the Thanksgiving table and can't tell who the troublemaker is, guess what? You may be that person.

Too often, accompanying the turkey, pies and football are family conflicts that have been fermenting since LAST Thanksgiving.

But don't give in to the temptation to poke a sleeping dog in the ribs.

There are some areas most of us should agree on; being thankful for our blessings foremost among them.

Homogenous Nebraskans are more than likely to be in general agreement on politics, but that's dangerous territory at any Thanksgiving table.

Perhaps you can agree to disagree on this or that presidential candidate, and have an intellectually stimulating discussion. It's too easy, however, to sink into a personal attack, so if that's one of your weaknesses, stick to discussions on the weather.

Whatever the conflict, stay in control of your emotions -- lose control, and even if the facts are on your side, you're wrong.

Plan ahead, and think about how you'll respond when certain topics or situations arise.

* If possible, only invite family members you enjoy being around.

* Take notes on how you want to behave.

* Don't get sucked into family arguments that don't end well.

* Choose your table topics well.

* Line up some co-conspirators to strategize ways to keep the peace.

* Give challenging relatives an assignment.

* If there's room, invite some outsiders as "buffers," to encourage good behavior, and arrange the seating accordingly.

* Don't drink much alcohol, or eliminate it all together.

* Play your part in family traditions, even if you don't especially enjoy them.

* Find a way to include the kids, then set them free. Arrange childcare ahead of time.

* Don't stuff yourself.

* Provide an escape route when there's too much togetherness. Maybe it's a TV in another room, or perhaps a shopping trip.

* Reward yourself when it's all over.

*Most of all, remember it's Thanksgiving!

Be thankful whatever your situation.

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