• I hope I don't insult my family by stating this - WE HAVE SOME ODDBALLS. My grandparents have a house full of taxidermy.  A cousin greats you by patting your booty while saying, "Bless your heart."  An uncle has a special "square dancing name" and wears it on his belt buckle.  A 90 year old aunt declared to all at our last gathering that she wants to have sex one more time.  

  • That's the norm at my family gatherings so you can imagine what a holiday does to the cra-cra factor.  Thanksgiving makes people go nuts.

    Disaster and comedy are often part of our holiday meal. When I was a little girl, we were in Tennessee visiting my dad's side of the family near the Smoky Mountains in a little, bitty town called Spring City, next to Soddy Daisy, around the corner from Stump Hollow.  Everyone was chowing on the spread of turkey, fried fish, chicken-n-dumplings and all sorts of non-Pilgrim dishes.  They do a side of jello, cream cheese, with pretzels and throw in some strawberries to call it a "salad." 

    My Aunt Patsy was enjoying her dinner when all of a sudden, she started the "I'm choking" pantomime, only she wasn't playing a game.  Uncle Hayward grabbed her from behind, pulled her pants down, and put his tongue all over her bottom.  The food went flying through the air and Aunt Patsy started breathing again.  Grandpa proudly hugged me while whispering, "The Cecil's call that The Hind Lick Maneuver."   

    So as we gather with our families this holiday to give thanks, keep in mind that gratitude releases dopamine, a neurotransmitter in the brain that makes us feel great.  Regular gratitude helps create a "virtuous cycle" in that the brain starts looking for more things to be grateful for, hoping to get that next rush.  I am super grateful for the odd things my family does.  I only hope I can live up to their legacy.

    Tips on how to deal with the "crazy":
    •  Avoid topics that will get you into trouble.  If you know Uncle Bobby always talks politics, make a joke out of it when he baits you.  Say, "Let's not talk about that, and give the rest of the family something to be thankful for." 
    •  Don't gobble till you wobble.  Tough order for Thanksgiving but think of it as a 2 day feast and know you can have leftovers.  Or, wear yoga pants. They are on my gratitude list.
    •   Bite your tongue.  It's one day and better to leave feeling proud of how you showed up instead of dealing with the aftermath.
    •  If someone offends you, ask them, "That really hurt my feelings. Think you could rephrase what you said in a way that shows you love me?"  Corny but it works.
    •  Make your own fun to bring up the mood! 

    Happy Thanksgiving!