Stuffed to the brim yesterday and hungover today. Not from alcohol, but from the food, entertainment and drama. Thanksgiving Day is one of my favorite holidays of the year, the other Christmas in Barbados. As in last year’s blog, I shared our family traditions and how we express our thankfulness – Staycation Plans. Today, I want to highlight some of the stressors that are part and parcel of making Thanksgiving Day an unforgettable experience.
Usually I sit down to eat the sumptuous meal with family and friends just after noon. I adopted this habit many years ago. It gives my guests who spend the entire day the chance to consume the meal, with opportunity for seconds, thirds, and desserts. Plus, I would not have to worry about storage for the leftovers. I still recall my very first Thanksgiving meal. My host and I prepared the food all day long and didn’t sit down to eat until 7:00 p.m. that night. In my humble opinion, that was way too late to be eating such a heavy meal, but I graciously obliged my host and tried to do justice to the meal that was served to me. From that time, I promised myself I would never serve meals to my guests that late and I have kept my promise.
Over the years, I have found that while the day is wildly anticipated, many anxieties are experienced before, during and after the actual day. Is it all worth it? Many a host will tell you, “yes, it is.” You can be the judge after reading of some of the pressures that help to put a strain on the day.
Travel can be one of the contentious points that causes anxiety on Thanksgiving Day, whether by car, bus, train or plane. Arriving or departing, your visitor’s safety is paramount. This year was touted to be one of the heaviest travel days, and from all indicators, that prediction was a bulls-eye. Thanksgiving-eve and Day, cars flowed in every direction like red and white blood cells flowing up and down a vein. More people hit the open road to join family and friends than in previous years. A contributing factor are low gas prices.
Weather conditions too can greatly factor in. Because of the tendency to have an early snowfall, (as we had last week) possible flight cancellations may occur. Over bookings and other unanticipated anomalies may cause delays in departures/arrivals. Whichever travel option used, the tension of dealing with congestion, delays, or cancellations may greatly impact the start of your holiday celebration and or may derail your plans altogether.
Family dynamics may present some uneasiness when considering or looking over your
invitation list. You can choose friends, but you cannot choose family members. That said, there may be wariness in extending invitations to break bread especially when you know some members don’t get along. Even though the day is all about thankfulness, some personalities are not always willing to put their differences aside and may cause some tension which will overshadow the day. This possibility is cause for concern if you are trying to accommodate everyone, not wanting to choose one over the other.
Food preparation can be another big stressor too. Choosing mouth-watering foods that everyone will love and enjoy can turn out to be exasperating, especially when most of your invited guests are foreigners, and it is hard to please everyone. Do you serve the regular Thanksgiving Day cuisine, or do you serve that of another culture? Which culture takes preference? Without a doubt, the one agreed upon food that will grace the
table will be the bird. If it is eaten, liked or disliked, you can rest assured that turkey (whole bird or breast) with stuffing will take center stage. The other fixings may be hard to choose, and indeed, may bring an added weight that may not be worth the time or effort.
Entertainment is another medium through which tension can manifest itself. Routing for one favorite football team or another, is not necessarily the issue. If that were the case, then you would be happy to know that all persons in the house are fans of the game. However, football may not be the favorite pastime of your invited guests. So, how do you deal with the blaring TV in one room, a gregarious group in an adjacent room, and still others or lone figures huddled in other areas of the house trying to have different conversations? Running around trying to be the perfect host, making sure everyone is happy, and enjoying themselves may bring on moments of unwanted worry and anxiousness.
At the end of the day, you are eager to see the backs of your guests and their tail lights pulling away from your driveway. You breathe a sigh of relief and are thankful that you survived yet again. The food was eaten, everyone said they enjoyed themselves and had a great time. The strain and tensions of the day melt away as your weary head touches the pillow. Before you drift off into sleep you find yourself thinking on new and improved plans for next year’s Thanksgiving.
Community Peeps, how was your Thanksgiving Day? Do you have some Thanksgiving drama of our own to share? What has been your experience as host, or attending a family/friend’s home for the meal? Spill the beans on your experiences, past or recent. Waiting to hear from you.
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