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Old 09-28-2010, 11:59 AM   #21
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Thanksgiving has evolved into a secular holiday, much like July 4th, Labor Day, Memorial Day, etc.

It's of little significance in a "family" sense, IMHO. It certainly is not like Christmas, Hanukkah, or other religious based holiday when family may come together.

I went through the same problem as you with my mother, over many years. First it was dinner at her house (with arguments), and then it was take her out to eat (with arguments). Today? It's nothing (we don't communicate at all; arguments are in the past).

There is no reason that you must put yourself under pressure due to "the sake of family". Life is too short...
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Old 09-28-2010, 12:18 PM   #22
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Is it too simple and easy to just be completely honest about it all, and say that you do NOT enjoy these Thanksgiving Dinners, and don't want to attend ever again? Or at least not this year.
We can't have that. We must all pretend to love everyone with whom we share DNA.

Stay home and invite people who might not want to be alone: friends, coworkers, local college students...
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Old 09-28-2010, 12:26 PM   #23
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We must all pretend to love everyone with whom we share DNA.
I don't need to pretend but I guess that's not the norm
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Old 09-28-2010, 12:33 PM   #24
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I'm sure this won't apply to the OP....

..but I can tell y'all this...during my cop days, Thanksgiving and Christmas were the worst...way too many disorderly calls. Emotions and booze will do it every time...
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Old 09-28-2010, 12:40 PM   #25
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For years, my SO and I have dealt with a lot of stress and expectations of where we should be at holidays. It has gotten better only because we learned to say NO, as gently and firmly as we could, to many of the events. Surprisingly, we haven't gotten as much push-back as we expected.

Could you tell your extended family that now that your kids are at a certain age (whatever age they happen to be right now), you want to establish your own little family ritual and celebrate Thanksgiving on your own (that could be at home, at a restaurant, or even out of town)? That could establish a new routine for you and solve the problem going forward.
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Old 09-28-2010, 01:37 PM   #26
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I would book a trip out of town now. Then when it comes to invitations or discussions you can truthfully say you will not be available. It sounds like it is time to start your own Thanksgiving traditions. Life is too short to waste a day being miserable when it can be avoided.
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Old 09-28-2010, 02:05 PM   #27
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I would book a trip out of town now. Then when it comes to invitations or discussions you can truthfully say you will not be available. It sounds like it is time to start your own Thanksgiving traditions. Life is too short to waste a day being miserable when it can be avoided.
One question I have about this-isn't it perhaps teaching our own children to avoid us when they are adults? They are as likely to find fault with us as we are with the other members of our extended families. When children are young, the parents pretty well control them. But that doesn't last as long as we might like.

As as far as being miserable, isn't that a bit dramatic? Unless we are being physically assaulted, aren't we (or shouldn't we be) at least somehwhat in charge of our own perceptions and attitudes and affects?

Ha
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Old 09-28-2010, 02:29 PM   #28
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One question I have about this-isn't it perhaps teaching your own children to avoid you when they are adults? They are as likely to find fault with you as you are with the other members of your extended family. When children are young, the parents pretty well control them. But that doesn't last as long as we might like.

As as far as being miserable, isn't that a bit dramatic? Unless we are being physically assaulted, aren't we (or shouldn't we be) at least somehwhat in charge of our own perceptions and attitudes and affects?

Ha
What's wrong with that?
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Old 09-28-2010, 02:40 PM   #29
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Ironic that the day dedicated to being thankful for what we have has turned into the opposite for some of us. You can take it back however you wish to--but maybe a thankful attitude going into it might help?
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Old 09-28-2010, 02:53 PM   #30
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I had been spending Thanksgiving with my aunt on the other side of Pittsburgh, and we would cook a capon as she hates turkey and make all kinds of salads, sweet potatoes, cranberries. In short, lots of work and clean up. Last year she called and said friends had invited her for dinner and I was invited, too. I told her to go ahead without me and I celebrated the day by myself eating popcorn at the movie theater. It was pretty nice. We haven't made Thanksgiving plans this year yet but will play it by ear. I had to lie to a couple of friends who said "You are going to your aunt's?" otherwise I would have been hounded to come and share the turmoil of Thanksgiving dinner at their house.
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Old 09-28-2010, 03:21 PM   #31
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I would take Mom & the rest of the family on a trip over Thanksgiving, it needn't be far - just far enough to create some separation. In my community, Portland, one could rent a place at the beach (only an hour's drive away) and either have a low-key Thanksgiving dinner or go out.
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Old 09-28-2010, 03:28 PM   #32
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I try to avoid the same thing each year. Some years I travel with just my immediate family. Other years I host Thanksgiving here, however, I always invite friends in addition to family. It seems to temper the internal family conflicts. I have taken my mother who is now 92 out to dinner on many occasion. I would try for a nice hotel that has a Thanksgiving dinner.

I always invite people for dinner around 5-6PM so it is just dinner and an evening event. I keep the day free for myself.

My daughter just moved out of state so I will go up to the DC area this year.
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Old 09-28-2010, 03:29 PM   #33
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There are several places I could go for Thanksgiving, but I prefer to be alone.

Sometimes the neighbors bring over some food.
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Old 09-28-2010, 03:41 PM   #34
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Old 09-28-2010, 04:42 PM   #35
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We used to have Thanksgiving at my house but after my sister remarried she likes to have it at her house which is fine with me because our parents live close to her and no longer drive as far as my house.

She married a man who keeps kosher. Two of his 3 children (now grown) are vegetarians so she had a few extra requirements - no milk in the mashed potatoes, no real whipped cream, don't add chicken or turkey broth of drippings to some items, etc. Then there was her husband's brother's family from out of town who were ultra kosher. My sister's kosher home/dishes/silverware/food wasn't kosher enough so they came with their own food/silverware/plates. Really, really odd.......

Her elderly in-laws have since died but there was the time her father-in-law overate, vomited in the dining room and then passed out. Paramedics were called and he was taken to the hospital before dessert was served.

Luckily, we are a family who long ago learned not to discuss politics and no one is a big drinker so there are none of the typical arguments. Everyone knows that whoever sits next to my Mom is in charge of monitoring that she doesn't eat off the serving utensils and then put them back in the food.

The koshers and the ultra-koshers talk about all their activities which includes their temples, etc. but religion is never discussed. Maybe it's because they know we are atheists.

We all know our parts to play. We get along just fine.
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Old 09-28-2010, 11:31 PM   #36
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One question I have about this-isn't it perhaps teaching our own children to avoid us when they are adults? They are as likely to find fault with us as we are with the other members of our extended families. When children are young, the parents pretty well control them. But that doesn't last as long as we might like.

As as far as being miserable, isn't that a bit dramatic? Unless we are being physically assaulted, aren't we (or shouldn't we be) at least somehwhat in charge of our own perceptions and attitudes and affects?

Ha
Not really, what it is teaching them is that you don't have to be a victim, if you are in situation that you don't enjoy, you have the choice of removing yourself. The children don't need to be informed that Thanksgiving is going to be a trip somewhere to get away from relatives, it merely needs to be presented as an opportunity to try something new.

If you develop a good relationship with your children when they are young I am sure that those relationships will thrive when they are adults. I'll bet that most of these families that find themselves in these awkward situations now were probably disfunctional way back.
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Old 09-29-2010, 03:41 AM   #37
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I am sad to read some of these posts under this thread about how to avoid family at Thanksgiving. While everyone's circumstances are different (especially in the case of "dysfunctional families"), my wish for this Thanksgiving would be to have my parents around - just one more time.

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Thanksgiving is about two months away but I am already dreading it.
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Old 09-29-2010, 09:23 AM   #38
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I am sad to read some of these posts under this thread about how to avoid family at Thanksgiving. While everyone's circumstances are different (especially in the case of "dysfunctional families"), my wish for this Thanksgiving would be to have my parents around - just one more time.
Me too--my last Thanksgiving with my parents was in 1971.

I think the holiday angst has escalated immeasurably over the last generation--before that no one thought about their families being dysfunctional, and moreover no one had been exposed to the heartwarming media/advertising views of the perfect happy families and their holidays (which didn't exist--even the earlier unreal Norman Rockwell families were tattered and not beautiful) as something to strive for. And then we all got exposed to the dysfunctional gatherings in movies etc. (which also didn't exist) and identified with them.

We should take back our dysfunction! Everyone should just stand up this November and throw the turkey out the window and say, "I'm not going to take this any more!"

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Old 09-29-2010, 10:01 AM   #39
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I am sad to read some of these posts under this thread about how to avoid family at Thanksgiving. While everyone's circumstances are different (especially in the case of "dysfunctional families"), my wish for this Thanksgiving would be to have my parents around - just one more time.
I too would dearly love to have my Dad around one more time. After 17 years I still miss him a lot. I have never left Mom alone on any holiday including their anniversary and do not plan to. While I am lucky that the dysfunctional ones in the family are not my parents I certainly sympathize with anyone in that situation.

What has really helped me is to realize that family does not have to be someone you share DNA with and just because you do share DNA with someone if they are toxic and not willing to change then It is not just ok but it is right to put them behind you and yes that is a reference to scripture.

In the case of my post the problem is on DW side this time and I will not force her into any decision about her family. I will only support her. That support may well be best applied by my absence at the meal but that too will be a joint decision with DW.

She and our kids are my family and hopefully when they are grown we will have raised them in such a way and we will have lived in such a way that they will want to continue being a part of our lives.
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