tips for surviving the holidays

Amys Gluten Free Pantry

I love the hol­i­days. LOVE them. I know the house will be clean, the sil­ver pol­ished, the stemware shinny and the food deli­cious. How­ever, for me to truly enjoy the hol­i­days, I always employ a few time tested strate­gies because if we’re being hon­est, the hol­i­days can bring a cer­tain angst with them. Look at it this way. If you have twelve peo­ple at your din­ner table, you have 144 sep­a­rate rela­tion­ships all hap­pen­ing at the same time. Peo­ple might bring a lot to the table – fam­ily pol­i­tics, unful­filled expec­ta­tions and pol­i­tics of the other kind. Here’s a few tips to make sure you enjoy your hol­i­day sea­son, no mat­ter what gets thrown at you.

Mar­tini, any­one? Please?
If you are host­ing a big event at your home, like Thanks­giv­ing or Christ­mas din­ner, please, please, do the sen­si­ble thing and con­sider the mer­its of a full bar. You might belong to one of those fam­i­lies who rep­re­sent every polit­i­cal party on the bal­lot. Green Party, tree-hugging, bleed­ing heart Demo­c­rat, mod­er­ate Demo­c­rat, mod­er­ate Repub­li­can and peo­ple who fol­low the mus­ings of Sarah Palin like a stoner fol­lows the Grate­ful Dead. Hence the full bar because as my sis­ter Car­rie says, “you can always drink ‘em pretty.” Not that I’m sug­gest­ing a drink­ing binge. Not really. Well maybe kind of. It depends on your def­i­n­i­tion of “pretty.”

Hedge your bets
Have either a dis­tant fam­ily mem­ber, friend or total stranger attend your hol­i­day. It’s what Jesus would do. But that’s not why I’m sug­gest­ing it. Uncle Floyd, who delights in telling offen­sive, racially charged jokes will think twice in front of a stranger. I don’t think the hol­i­day table is the right place to dis­cuss the NSA, the NRA or any other polit­i­cal acronym, but in case it hap­pens, hedge your bets with a few guests.

The con­ver­sa­tion killer
If tips 1 and 2 have failed, remem­ber that hol­i­days are a time of grat­i­tude and reflec­tion. And patience and kind­ness. If you are the bleed­ing heart lib­eral and some­one tells you how affronted they are at the lim­i­ta­tions of gun laws, may I sug­gest my favorite response? Here it is. “Isn’t that some­thing?” It flows really well. Here, let’s run it all together like this:

Uncle Floyd: “I don’t know what the big deal is about women earn­ing 77 cents on the dol­lar com­pared to men.”
You: (Take a sip of your mar­tini) “Isn’t that something?” Now turn head and talk to the per­son beside you.

It’s a polite way of say­ing absolutely noth­ing. Don’t spend time, energy or angst dis­cussing some­thing with some­one who does not have the capac­ity to under­stand you. Besides, its not your job to enlighten any­one with your own par­tic­u­lar brand of wis­dom. It’s your job to wear a stretchy waist band so you can eat an obscene amount of food and fall into a tryp­to­phan coma.

If you can deliver this line grace­fully, no one will ever know you’ve mor­phed into the con­ver­sa­tional angel of death. Instead, feel grat­i­tude that Uncle Floyd has given you a post-holiday story for your friends. And remem­ber, he finds your views equally objec­tion­able. Dang women’s lib­ber.

Really, what the hell is that?
If you have a fam­ily mem­ber who must, MUST eat one of those sacro­sanct hol­i­day dishes that isn’t on the menu, and you don’t have time to pro­duce it out of thin air, invite them to bring it. I, per­son­ally, do not delight in the gush­ing, burp­ing sound canned cran­berry rel­ish makes as it slides in a blub­ber­ing mass onto a dish, but hos­pi­tal­ity is the order of the day. Toss some mint around it, put it on your pret­ti­est piece of china and serve it with pride.

One big table
Don’t have a kids table. Really. My chil­dren and all my nieces and nephews are chief among my great­est bless­ings and joys and I bet they’re yours too. Hav­ing them part of the con­ver­sa­tion will add a dimen­sion and rich­ness to your day. It will also make the adults recon­sider that fourth drink and those off-color jokes. No one wants to scare the children.

Why do you always put me next to Uncle Floyd?
Place cards are lovely, for­mal and tra­di­tional, but they will haunt you like heart­burn from a bad street taco. If you put your squab­bling sis­ters next to one another, you might hear about it for weeks after. If you sep­a­rate them, they might take a moment to tell you they’re adults and you didn’t have to inter­fere. If you put any­one next to a food-throwing tod­dler, they might assume you’re hold­ing some sort of grudge and now it’s pay­back time. My hus­band, kids and I qui­etly stake out our spots near one another by cross­ing our sil­ver­ware over our plates and then it’s a free for all for any­one else.

Be grate­ful
Thanks­giv­ing at my child­hood home included friends and fam­ily, one huge table that seated eigh­teen, and the tra­di­tion of express­ing our indi­vid­ual thanks prior to the meal. One by one, we would relate those things for which we were most grate­ful. Our fam­ily, our friends and our free­doms were chief among them. Not much has changed for me except an ever bur­geon­ing fam­ily. 36 per side, if you can believe that. And that doesn’t include cousins. Just our sib­lings and their families.

So what­ever comes your way this hol­i­days sea­son, remem­ber what it is you love about the peo­ple you are with and embrace them with a lov­ing heart.

As for me, in addi­tion to my hus­band and kids, I’m grate­ful for and to my par­ents. That hasn’t changed since I was old enough to express my thanks at the Trimm fam­ily table. That’s them below. My dad is the brunette.

Happy Hol­i­days everyone!

Posted in holidays + special events, lifestyle | 3 Comments

3 Responses to tips for surviving the holidays

  1. Anna says:

    Amy, I love LOVE this blog post. Great job. The piece of advice I love most is not to have a kids table. Words of wis­dom, truly.

  2. Leigh Richelieu says:

    Beau­ti­fully done and thanks, Sis! Regard­ing hol­i­day meals and all large gath­er­ings of friends and fam­ily I want to share 2 words that have saved my life and added more fun to these occas­sions: Del­e­gate and relax. Del­e­gat­ing was men­tal surgery for me but I did it and the over­all effect of oth­ers con­tribut­ing has enriched the entire meal. Relax­ing has come from really good plan­ning and prep ahead of time. Oh and the ‘per­sonal’ open bar con­cept helps! xoxo

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>