Awwwww! Isn't that cat ADORABLE?!?
I wish I had a cat in a sweater to hand out to each of you.
Here's one for you!
And one for you!
And here's a cat in a sweater for YOU!
I would be like Cat in a Sweater Santa except I would visit just before Thanksgiving to hand our cats in sweaters to all the tormented souls worried about Thanksgiving dinner.
Any time things started to get tense around the Thanksgiving dinner table, you could just reach into your Cat in a Sweater Carry Bag, pull our your Cat in a Sweater, hold the little one up and say...
"Hey LOOK everybody! IT'S A CAT IN A SWEATER!"
And everyone would turn and look, because WTH?
But then you would see their faces change and slowly their eyes would soften and their hearts would melt because Hellooooo! Cat in a SWEATER!
Or at the very least they would freeze, crinkle their brow, tilt their head in confusion, because Hello? Cat in a Sweater...???
But either way...
The tension would dissipate, laughter would ensue, and Thanksgiving would go back to being a really fun time for everyone. :)
If only it were that easy.
(And if only the cats were on board!)
So... Thanksgiving is really great - in theory.
Delicious Food. Generations of family coming together. Good times.
But even with the best intentions, sometimes the holiday is just, hard.
At Thanksgiving we don't have the distraction of presents that Hanukkah or Christmas brings. We don't spend New Year's Eve or Valentine's Day with generations of family. Even those who celebrate Easter have an egg hunt to keep them busy.
At Thanksgiving it's just us, the food, the family, and then all of the STUFF that's either being said or not said but TOTALLY COMMUNICATED amongst this group of people.
And since we're living in a very divisive political and social justice climate right now, this year's Thanksgiving might be extra challenging.
A Few Tips to Feel Whole (and not too full) this Thanksgiving
How do you handle eating so that you feel good, but not too full and definitely not stuffed.
Here are my tips:
#1 Ask yourself: Am I aware of what I'm eating when I'm eating it?
* Can I taste the food?
* Am I chewing it or shoveling it in?
* Do I feel calm or panicky - as in, panicked that there won't be enough?
* Did I just subconsciously zoom to the dessert table after my uncle brought up race relations?
If you can't taste your food, slow down. Savor the mouthful you're on.
If you're not chewing, slow down and potentially check if you need help calming down. Getting triggered can lead to unconscious eating.
If you feel panicky, like there won't be enough food, breathe into that. Then remind yourself that you have money and that you can buy more food if you need it. You're okay.
If you're emotionally numbing out or coping because of something going on around you, stop, put the food down, take a break from the conversation, take a walk, go to another room, ask for support, or leave. You're allowed to. It's okay.
#2 Ask yourself: Where is my food danger zone? In other words, where do I overdo it and then regret it later?
* Is it the appetizers?
* The alcohol?
* Taking too big a portion of everything?
* Eating dessert when you're full?
If you have a tendency to show up to dinner REALLY hungry, eat a snack (like an apple) before you arrive. You don't want to start out hangry.
If you overdo it on alcohol, be the designated driver or encourage an alcohol free meal.
If you take too big a portion of everything, challenge yourself to take a quarter of a cup (or less) of each food item and tell yourself you can have more, if you're still hungry, 30 minutes after you're done.
If you eat dessert when you're full, make yourself a portion to take home. Put it in a tupperware and then put it in the fridge.
If you feel comfortable, you can tell people before you start eating that XYZ is your danger zone and you really want to have a good Thanksgiving this year, so would they help you not overdo it. You can also ask what their danger zone is and if they want support going easy on that food this year?
#3 Remind yourself that you are an adult and you can make any of these foods any time of the year if you want to.
* Period. Even your Great Aunt's Susie's Sweet Potato Pie has a recipe for it that YOU CAN MAKE (or you can ask her to make for your birthday or something). So relax. You don't have a scarcity of food. Remind your body that you are safe.
#4 Ask yourself: Am I getting emotionally triggered and reacting by eating? What do I need to do to get my thinking brain back online?
* Triggers can make us eat.
* We eat to stuff our emotions.
* We eat to push away bad feelings for the taste of sweet or salt or savoriness.
* We eat because somehow we learned that that was more acceptable than confrontation or conflict.
If you're feeling triggered or cornered, seek out a safe person, a safe space, like I said earlier, take a break or take a walk, or go home. Find somewhere you can feel and express your emotions rather than stuffing them.
If Thanksgiving is at your home, you can also ask the offending person who won't back down to either calm down or tell them that they will need to leave. They are most likely triggered too.
Do your best to have compassion for yourself - and once you've taken a break - have compassion for the other person in the conversation too.
Thanksgiving can be a tough holiday, but it can also be a beautiful, bountiful, hilarious, delicious, and connecting time for you and your loved ones.
Be gentle with yourself. Be kind to yourself. Relax your ideas of the perfect holiday gathering. Chew.
And when in doubt... just pull out your Cat in a Sweater... eh, hem picture... (see top of this post) to ponder just how ridiculous your Zumba instructor is.
HEY LOOK EVERYBODY! IT'S A CAT IN A SWEATER!
Happy Thanksgiving y'all... <3