As Ram Dass said many years ago, “If you think you’re enlightened, go spend a week with your family.”  Nothing like the holiday to test your level of personal growth and healing.  Family dynamics are rich, and they are the drama many a Hollywood movie is made of.  For me, it’s a big helping of humor that’s the most important ingredient of any holiday meal.

For Thanksgiving, I’m already plotting.  Trader Joe’s has a wonder turkey gingerbread “house.”  I’m having my first Thanksgiving with my partner’s family.  I’m not nervous because I like most people, but I’m also aware adding me into the mix might be a slight dose of stress for some of the other family members.  Possibly.  I’m new, and God only knows what my new family is thinking.  Don’t really know them well yet.  But what I do know is that everyone likes to laugh, and I can bring that to the Thanksgiving table for sure.

Now, how do you prepare humor for Thanksgiving?  Bake it?  Fry it?  What about using the barbecue?  Not unlike prepping the big meal, you need to plan ahead.  As you’re making your cranberry sauce from scratch – you better – start thinking about what’s fun and funny about it.  Apple pies, can you find the humor?  What about stuffing?   See, here’s where I think I’ll have my in.  Everyone has a favorite stuffing.  Regular or corn bread?  Bake it in the bird or separate?  Season it with thyme and rosemary, or get spicy.  I know some of you are spicy.  Spend a little time thinking about what might be humorous for your peeps. 

I think if we’re going to talk politics at Thanksgiving we need to focus on the food.  “Everybody Loves Raymond” did a Thanksgiving episode where Raymond’s mother Marie, played to perfection by Doris Roberts, made a tofu turkey. One of the funniest episodes ever.  Maybe some of you are vegan or vegetarian.  I say show up at the family meal with a vegan dish.  That’s at least twenty to thirty minutes of conversation.  And please make a joke out of it.  Almost everyone responds to humor, and if you’re ever going to convert the heathens in your family to veganism, you’re gonna need lots of it. 

For me, I’m planning to show up with the Turkey gingerbread structure and a $10 bottle of Trader Joe’s sparkling rose.  This, by the way, is my secret weapon.  You can pay all you want for sparkling rose, but this one’s a winner at ten bucks.  Some might laugh, but that’s the whole point.  I know we’re all going to be talking about this under priced treasure.  Do things differently.  Try a new side dish.  Add a keto cobbler.  I don’t know if these exist, but it sounds good and is bound to start a conversation.

Put down your devices and talk to one another.  Yes, politics are divisive right now.  I get it.  But that’s not all that’s happening in the world.  Families and friends are so busy these days, that the opportunity to come together and share a meal is a luxury, one I savor.  Do a personal update.  How are the kids?  What project are you loving at work?  You’re dating who now?  So many questions, so little time.  Ask away.

And if you’re not a humorous person, then come armed with your gratitude list.  This is Thanks – giving after all.  Have everyone at the table share a little bit about what they’re grateful for.  And start the whole affair off this way.  Maybe you and yours say a prayer, and it’s fine if you don’t, just head directly to the gratitude.  This will set the tone for the day, and I guarantee that in addition to the amazing aromas wafting about, there will also be a whole lot of love in the air.

And finally, keep Aunt Margaret away from the booze, hide the matches from cousin Ricky, and don’t talk politics to anyone, especially uncle what’s his name.  He’s absolute trouble.  Instead, tell everyone they look beautiful, the turkey is super moist, and that you hate to dirty the beautify holiday cloth napkins.  Are you starting to get the picture?  Good will is free and it creates a beautiful environment that everyone wants to be a part of.  And there’s so much to talk about, so much gratitude to share, and so many things to laugh about, so do it.  Laugh, love, and make a Thanksgiving celebration for the books.  You won’t forget this one, though I suspect you’ll be full, both your belly and your heart.