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14 Questions to De-Stress Major Holidays

14 Questions to De-Stress Major Holidays

Thanksgiving can be one of those holidays that can cause a great deal of stress. There  can be difficult family members, unexpected or unwanted guests, strained relationships, and lack of communication between attendees about who is coming, when they are arriving and what they are bringing. The hostess, especially if he/she is structured planner, can get overwhelmed and frustrated and then drive everyone else crazy with what appears to be nit-picking details over what should be a gathering of spirits.

As a hostess or host, we may feel the event has to be ideal or perfect. We may tend to feel we have to cook this one particularly meal a year from scratch. Some of us may feel we need to have the quintessential Norman Rockwell’ “Freedom From Want” feast with the golden brown, roasted turkey being placed ceremoniously on the table by the female elder. In reality, Rockwell painted the picture in 1943 in the middle of World War II and mandatory food rationing. When I go back and look at the “Freedom From Want” table, there isn’t much else on the table other than a soup tureen, some fruit and a dish of what looks like celery. Although the turkey appears to be the centerpiece, the real focus is smiling family members and perhaps friends,  framing the turkey in joy, laughter and excitement.  I can try to imagine the feeling of want but it’s really hard to feel “sustenance want” when our grocery stores are packed with every food imaginable and we have this enormous supply change for food in our country.

Years can be different. One year we are celebrating all of the immediate family being together. One year, we knew it was going to be the last year with my parents as they were both passing. This year, we have one older adult child who started his first job and cannot be with us. The other son is coming but we don’t know the schedule. For most families, flexibility is the key to a successful day.

I find the following internal questioning process helpful to reduce my stress, and believe me, I can get stressed!


14 Questions to De-stress Major Holidays

  1. What do I believe to be the purpose of the day?
  2. What do I believe my guests feel is the purpose of the day?
  3. What do I know about my guests?
  4. How do I know my beliefs are accurate?
  5. How would I describe my ideal Thanksgiving event?
  6. What all would I need to do to make Thanksgiving my ideal event?
  7. What would happen if the day was ideal?
  8. What would happen if the day was not ideal?
  9. Do I think or feel I have to cook everything and why?
  10. What can I do (vs what I WANT to do)?
  11. Will it make a hill of beans difference if I do only what I can do rather than want to do?
  12. Where or what is pressuring me do that?
  13. If I don’t cook everything and make the perfect table, what will happen?
  14. If I do cook everything or do everything I want to do, what will happen?

Once I get the “thinking” side of my brain starting to respond, the emotional side settles down and my stress levels decreases.

Next, some tips for us wanna-be perfectionists!



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