By Steven G. Mehta

I want to wish everyone a Happy And Blessed Thanksgiving.   However, not all Thanksgiving Experiences are happy and blessed.  For those of you who may be worried about having the less than perfect thanksgiving, I thought I would give you some Mediation Thanksgiving Tips to Help you with that Challenging Family Member.


Hit the Pause Button

I know Uncle Arthur is the family curmudgeon and he is going to comment negatively about  something.  You know it is going to make you angry.  The solution is to hit the pause button on your reaction.  When the comment comes out, take a second, minute, or even five to react.  Many times you will find out that you don’t need to react after you have paused.  In mediation, many hostile things are said.  Pausing will help to manage the reaction and help you to not overreact.

Mental Mantra

In the movie, Point of No Return, Bridget Fonda is being trained as a spy.  She was training to be placed in very difficult situations.  Her trainer said, “whenever things bother you, just say something like, “I never did mind about the little things.”  Well when things get tight, find your own little mantra that you can either say out loud or internally.

Keep Them Talking

Sometimes all the challenging family member wants is to have a forum to talk.  So rather than doing something to shut them up, let them talk.  Ask questions.  By asking questions, you can help to lead the conversation in a direction that is more suitable to your needs.

There Is No Place Like Home

In the Wizard of Oz, Dorothy keeps repeating that there is no place like home.  Well the same is true for you.  “It is only one day.  It is only one day.”  “There is no place like home. – meaning soon it will be over and you will be home.”

Savor A Raisin Before It Starts

One study found that by savoring the flavor and taste of a raisin and being mindful of that experience, people were dramatically less likely to retaliate against personal attacks.  Take something you like such as coffee, wine, or chocolate and savor it before you open the door for the Thanksgiving onslaught.  If you don’t want to savor that, simply listen to calm relaxing music and focus on your breathing.  Big deep breaths for 5 minutes.  Another study found that focusing on your breath can help combat stress when it comes.


Tag Team Wrestling

If a member of the family bothers you, the odds are you are not alone.  Find that person and play tag team wrestling.  Enter into an agreement that you will help each other when things get bad.  When you have had enough, find your partner, and tag him or her just like in wrestling.  Maybe you can even be like a famous Luchador team and double team the person.

Invite “Buffers.” 

There is nothing so good at forcing the challenging people to behave as having a stranger amongst the company.  Remember the old saying, “familiarity breeds contempt.”  Well “unfamiliarity breeds politeness.”

Take charge of seating.  Put people who hate each other at different parts of the table.  Don’t let the guests choose.  Then have the younger kids make place cards and place their cards at the spots.  It is very hard for adults to attack a seating assignment when a 7 year old child has made it especially for them. Seat the most challenging persons near you and your wrestling buddy.  This way you can steer the conversation.

Provide escape routes.

Make sure that people have different spaces to congregate or go to.  If you see someone being overwhelmed by a challenging family member, ask them to help you with something.  Create activities for the challenging person or for the escapees.

Reward Yourself.  After it is all over, sit down and pull out something special for yourself that you have saved before the holiday.  Maybe it is a nice glass of wine, port, or piece of pie.  Tell some of your wrestling buddies to stay for the After Thanksgiving party.  Commiserate and laugh at the the funny moments.

Remember that you can choose your friends, but you can’t choose your family.  But without such family, you wouldn’t be who you are.