These days everybody has to borrow time from Peter to spend a little time with Paul. And you can count on the holiday season to exacerbate the situation.
If the list of loved ones clamoring for your company at Thanksgiving is longer than Pinocchio’s nose, take heart. There are simple steps you can take to maintain control of your Turkey Day.
- Sketch out your ideal Thanksgiving. With that image in mind, you’ll have something to aim for when obstacles surface. It could be as simple as telling yourself: “This year I want to sleep in, drive fewer than 100 miles and take the kids to see a movie.”
- Craft your message. Compose statements that reassure family members that you love them, but also remind them about the demands you’re dealing with—e.g., work, kids, fatigue, etc. For example: “I want to come home for Thanksgiving more than anything, Mom. But I’ve got to hold myself to a short travel schedule or I’ll fall too far behind at work.” (If possible, try to work in a little levity.)
- Share your plans in advance. Your family needs time for the news to sink in. Perhaps even announce your plans for next year at this year’s festivities. Then send a few friendly reminders about those plans during the year so no one can feign surprise.
- Stick to your plan. If you cave this year, they’ll expect you to cave every year.
Carving out personal time is tricky business under the best of circumstances. The sooner you set expectations, the easier it will be for your loved ones to get past that short end of the stick you’ve asked them to stir the pot with.
Before you act . . .
When you decline to participate in a family holiday event, suggest an alternate get-together and take the lead to make it happen.