(Pictured, my favorite dysfunctional family, "The Royal Tenenbaums".)
It's a week from tonight. So far only one person has asked me what I am doing for Thanksgiving. One year I told people I was preparing dinner at the Animal Shelter for homeless pets - and they actually believed me. I thought it was the funniest excuse I ever had - but no one picked up on the humor. (My very best friend Keevin tells me I am not funny.)
For years I would lie and say I was going to relatives, when I spent it with friends. There is such a thing about being with your family - I think that works if you have a normal one. (Although my sister has a lovely family, but I'm not a family type guy. She finally gets it.)
The holidays are a big stress time for many. Over the years I have worked hard to avoid the stress and pressure of family dinners and get-togethers. I just don't go. I used to say I was coming, but then wouldn't show up - but I realized that was rude. So now I just say, "No thank you."
But then there is the guilt. I've never liked Thanksgiving - it always seemed so Protestant to me. Dress up, act normal - until everyone had a little too much to drink, eat lots of food after having prayed grace for the first and only time all year, etc. I've never liked parades either, so I don't watch Macy's. But I do appreciate football - thank God for football! I also like "National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation" and "Home Alone" - two movies shown at this time of year.
I'm just not sentimental about Thanksgiving, or dysfunctional families. I've always asked my sister, "Why do I have to come over? You have your own family." After all of these years she leaves Uncle Scrooge alone. I usually get together with friends who feel as I do - although even then I'd rather be "Home Alone." I actually like to paint on the holidays - football in the background.
Very nice friends with family always invite me over, because I do not want to commit officious lies, I now just tell them, "I don't want to be with my family, so why would I want to be with yours." I thank them - but I have to be blunt - otherwise they are relentless. People make way too big a deal about this sentimental stuff - and I know I'm the envy of many a husband.
But if you have to go to the relatives house - and you don't like it - here is an article you may find helpful - or just don't go:
Holiday Family Angst
By Linda S. Mintle, Ph.D.
By Linda S. Mintle, Ph.D.
Dr. Linda Helps - It's that time of year again when most of us consider the trek home to join the family fun. For many, it's a trip into dysfunction, raising anxiety levels. Family get-togethers can create holiday angst -- a gift worth not giving!
Most of my therapy discussion this time of year centers on helping people prepare for family gatherings. My first piece of advice is this: do not idealize family relations. Unless you've all been in intensive therapy for a while, the family dance is not that different from years passed. Grandpa will still drink too much. Aunt Mary will be critical of the turkey. And Uncle Bob will be as obnoxious as ever. If you approach your family problems realistically, you can better prepare your reactions. Continue - Holiday Family Angst
Truth be told, when I was young and bad, Thanksgiving night used to be the most fun night of the year in the bars - everyone was in from out of town - out that night to escape the family. Although - in some ways - when you got back home, it was worse. I've repented and reformed since then.