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Pass the Potatoes, Not the Stress

The stuffing is crunchy and the rolls are burnt. To make matters worse, your sister-in-law insists on inviting the exchange student who doesn’t speak English and won’t eat turkey. Speaking of which, you discover the big old bird is overcooked while carving (more like sawing). Suddenly, the spirit of the Thanksgiving is completely lost on you.
Let’s face it; as much as we love them, the holidays can be stressful. As with most family events, the idea of “success” is tricky. At Thanksgiving, success is often directly related to how much your mother-in-law does or doesn’t say about your deviled eggs. With that in mind, here are some holiday “try-to-dos”:

1. Learn to say no: The holidays are no time to be heroic. Do not agree to allow your in-laws to bring their cat. Do not agree to offer tofu turkey for your vegetarian niece. Just say no and you will avoid feeling overwhelmed and resentful.

2. Plan Ahead. Unfortunately, Thanksgiving is not like Christmas; it’s not on the exact same date every year. Still, you don’t need a sundial and a slide rule to figure out the date. Look on any Hello Kitty calendar, and it will be there, right on the second-to-last Thursday in November … or is it the last Thursday in November?

3. Take a breather. Before the in-laws arrive, find some time (even if it is ten minutes between changing diapers and setting the table) for a sanity check. You can take a few breaths, go for a brisk walk, say a prayer or maybe have a good cry. Your internal calm will be restored, preparing you to better handle the added trauma of what is surely your Bundt cake falling.

4. Forget about perfection (aka set appropriate expectations): Time to grow up and make your own definition of success. This year I’ll just whip up the best candied yams I can muster and ignore the comments. OK … maybe next year. This year, I’ll volunteer to bake, I mean buy, the rolls from Corner Bakery. Perfect.

5. Holidays happen. Ready or not, here they come. I guarantee they won’t be perfect and the best thing you can do is remember it’s THANKS-giving. Time to really look around at how fortunate we all really are … and be grateful (especially for Central Market’s prepared turkey).

Paige McCoy Smith is the “not-so-perfect-parent” of two little boys. She lives in Fort Worth and pens a column for us about the joys of “getting real” about parenting.