We are officially 2 weeks away from Thanksgiving.  For many of us the holidays are not filled with glee but with anxiety about going home, shame about not having accomplished a goal (especially marriage and having children), painful childhood memories, having to keep “secrets” and nasty people and food.  I, like many of my therapist colleagues are extending hours to accommodate clients who want to get it a final boost of courage before entering into an uncomfortable space. Since everyone will not have the benefit of talking with a therapist face to face I thought it prudent to share some tips for navigating this Thanksgiving holiday:

1. Give yourself boundaries — Don’t GO, TALK to or about, or DO anything that you do not want to do! The word “NO” is a full and complete sentence.  It does not require explanation or justification.   If you are not at a point where you can say and stick to your “No”; walk away, turn on or turn the volume up on the TV or radio, change the topic, talk about the weather, the macaroni and cheese, etc.   Whatever you have to do to maintain your emotional safety, DO IT!

2. If you must go, take a friend who has been… take your die or die friend! Give your friend the rundown and tell your friend what you need i.e.; “girl, don’t let me get into it with my Aunt TT because ….. and I don’t want to slap the shit out of her.” Let your friend know that jail time is imminent if you and Aunt TT are left to your own devices.  

3. Prepare a response in advance!! No matter how many boundaries you have people are going to test you and ask you questions about something that is none of their business. Some responses can be; “I would rather not discuss this now?” “Thank you, but no thanks.” “This is none of your concern.” Or my personal favorite “Mind your god given business.” The “god given” can be exchanged with “muthafuckin!”

4. Show up extremely late (don’t really know if this is possible for black folk though) and leave extra early. Or, you can show up after the time dinner is supposed to be served knowing good and well they won’t be ready. Say you have another stop before dinner is served and BOOM, all awkward conversations are avoided. Take your plate to go!

5. DON’T GO! It’s just that simple. You can cook at home or go out. Plenty of restaurants will be open.  Have dinner at a friend’s home. You could to see a movie or to the mall to do some Black Friday shopping. You do not have to engage with people who don’t respect you or your boundaries.  Not even your family. YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR YOUR PEACE!!!!! You must stop at nothing to find and maintain it.

If you have other tips that folk might find helpful please comment below. Happy holiday season!