Life Advice



Tips for handling Thanksgiving this year

Alison Bowen, Chicago Tribune on

Published in Dating Advice

Really plan ahead for the meal

The supply chain has created issues across the country, and this might affect Thanksgiving too. Consider ordering ahead of time if you can; grocery stores have reported that they don’t expect scarcity, but experts still say to avoid waiting. Especially because after a year where festivities were scaled back, more families may be planning bigger get-togethers.

Keep conversations pleasant

We know — every year, holiday tips include how to avoid talking about politics or how to approach these conversations. Talkspace therapist Elizabeth Keohan suggests being proactive and coming up with conversation starters in advance, focusing on life changes, funny stories.

“Remember to be as thoughtful about listening,” she said. “Catching up and sharing time with others is as important as the meal itself.”

And, happily, University of Chicago behavioral scientist professor Nicholas Epley said that our dread of these conversations can often be more negative than the discussions themselves.

We underestimate how much people in our lives appreciate hearing that we are thankful for them, and why. Thanksgiving is a perfect time to focus on gratitude.


“Giving thanks, being grateful, and in particular expressing gratitude to somebody else makes you feel happier,” he said. “In fact, it’s probably the one thing you can do on any given day to have the most positive impact on your well-being or mood, and yet people are often reluctant to express gratitude.”

Family gatherings might feel more weighted — and exciting — this year, after many people canceled or limited holidays last year. But this also could bring two years of build-up, for example, with relatives who we may not agree with on politics or virus risk. These assumptions can color conversations, he said.

Ignore advice to avoid deep conversations, he said. It can be wonderful to have thoughtful discussions and extend them to, perhaps, the cousin you’ve never really gotten to know.

“They tend to go better than you expect, and they tend to be better than sticking to shallower stuff,” he said. “People underestimate how interested others are in having deep and meaningful conversation.”


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