Turn It: 3 ways to a great Thanksgiving

Today marks the final post in our Turn It series, and I am so grateful to Joy for her incredible creativity and generosity of spirit. I have been inspired by these posts, and challenged to turn the negative into a helpful positive. We hope you've enjoyed the journey, too. Here are three very practical ways to make tomorrow a great one! xo, MJ

Well friends, the holiday season is officially here! We’ve made it to Thanksgiving day, which means that many of us are headed out to feast with family and friends. While this is meant to be the happiest time of the year, it can sometimes be tough to be with people we wouldn’t generally spend time with otherwise.

Once upon a time, I dated someone whose mother was very difficult to be around, and we spent Christmas at her house that year. We were expected to sit in front of the television for the entire three day period and do nothing but watch terrible TV movies. At one point, I tried to sneak away to read for awhile, and she commented loudly, “Oh, are we too boring for her?”

Luckily, I really enjoy my family and James’, so I don’t end up in these awful holiday situations -- but that experience did teach me a few coping mechanisms. Should you find yourself dealing with a difficult family member this season, my hope is that these tactics will help you turn a dreadful situation into a happy (or at least tolerable) one.

Take a clue from Downton Abbey.

If you’ve ever watched Downton Abbey, you’ve witnessed the conversational choreography that we seem to have lost somewhere along the way. Practice being a great conversationalist by being curious and letting that difficult family member talk about his or her interests for five to ten minutes, seeing what you can learn from the chat. Then, politely excuse yourself by helping out in the kitchen, using the restroom, or heading out for a breath of fresh air. You’ll find that sometimes these individuals just need someone to pay attention to them for a few minutes, and then they don’t need to get attention by being nasty.

Become Martha Stewart.

In other words, bring along a project that everyone can contribute to. As the project coordinator, you’ll get to focus on it throughout the holiday, while each person adds their little touch. Create an ornament making station, make wreaths, make a scrapbook, work on an advent calendar. When you have a project to focus on, you have something to direct conversation toward.

Move it.

So much of the holidays is about sitting down and eating, but getting up and out puts everyone in a much brighter mood. Turn on the Wii and dance or bowl, go for a walk outside, or consider a short hike. I once read that it’s best to have difficult conversations while doing an activity, like driving. It rings true for family get togethers as well -- even if you don’t have anything particularly difficult to discuss, the forward movement opens up the door for communication that might not come naturally while sitting across the dinner table.


Thank you so much, Joy!! I can attest that even a walk around the neighborhood can bring a fresh perspective to a group stuck in a rut. Wishing all of you a blessed Thanksgiving.

Any other helpful ideas to Turn It for the holiday season?

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