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Expecting a heaping helping of both this year? If your family holidays always drag out the ghosts of thanksgiving dinners past and your stress level rises when you think about last year, how about a change of pace. I’m pretty sure we’ve all spent at least one Thanksgiving not only dealing with our own family issues, but have been subjected to the issues of others. Who needs it? Make this year a year of true change and more joy.

You don’t have to abandon your relatives or friends to make that change. You don’t have to feign Pool Ear to get out of conversing with great Aunt Nancy who keeps asking you when you’re going to get married. And you most certainly don’t have to give up the joys you do find with family during the holidays.

What you have to do in order to achieve pseudo-mock-simulated Thanksgiving bliss this year, is two or more of the following –

– stop thinking you have to answer all questions. Not only will this give you a sense of privacy, but it will teach you the valuable lesson of the joys of adulthood. You don’t have to answer questions if you don’t want to. You don’t have to attend cousin Emma’s wedding either, just so we’re clear. Learn to say “why do you ask”. Puts people right on the spot. Or learn to change the subject, by asking them a similarly personal question.

– realize that you are not your relatives despite the sharing of genetics, which in some cases is enough to last you in the sharing department for a lifetime. Your grandmother’s hairy mole may have been her best feature, but thankfully moles aren’t hereditary…or are they? You are your own person with your own life. This of course is assuming you’re an adult. (If you’re a kid, best of luck to you.) Stop looking around the room zeroing in on the flaws. They’re not all bad. Pretty much.

– understand that old people repeat themselves, sometimes drool, always want to pinch or pat your cheek and usually have some amazing stories to tell of family exploits from bygone years. Learn to listen carefully and ask pointed questions. Some of those juicy bits might just sell your next book. Life as fodder, don’tcha know.

– be ready with two or more excuses for why you missed the various weddings, showers, funerals and other assorted functions in the past year. You’re going to need those excuses just to shut them up. You’re better off making excuses that sound really technical or celebrity-related. They’ll be intimidated or impressed enough to leave you alone the next time.

– don’t bath; a surefire method to have people leave you be. Just explain that you’re at a crossroads in your life and you’re trying to find yourself. They expect crazy stuff from you already, right? Perfect.

– make sure to take advantage of this interaction with relatives and sell all your kids school project stuff, the ornaments, cookies, whatever. Sell baby sell. They can’t say no. You wouldn’t say no to them. Make sure you have plenty of the order forms and have little Emily hand them around.

– realize that leaving early isn’t an insult. So long as you’ve done the obligatory “can I help with the dishes?” and been turned away from the kitchen area, you’re free to go, likely with a slice of pumpkin pie on a plate with cling wrap over it.

Scoot…while you have the chance.

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