Taking the Kids: Debunking Thanksgiving myths
-- No one will spill anything red. They will, invariably on the new couch or white rug. Have club soda on hand to blot out the spots. There is nothing wrong with setting ground rules in advance where guests should drink their red wine or cranberry juice.
-- Everyone will volunteer to bring a scrumptious dish. If you don't want to end up with four store-bought pies, delegate responsibility for different courses, And if you are a guest who has a traditional Thanksgiving dish you want to share, make sure to tell your hosts in advance so there aren't a lot of duplicates. And you can't get insulted if it isn't the most popular.
-- No one will start a political argument. These days, political disagreements can get vicious. If one starts, end it immediately before anyone comes to blows or storms out of the house. And make sure everyone knows that politics -- like discussing parenting styles, religion, lifestyle choices, sexual orientation or job prospects -- are off limits. Otherwise, stay at home.
-- No one will be delayed. Of course, they will. It's the busiest travel weekend of the year, after all. If you are host, expect some guests to arrive late. And if you are the guest and you can, build in extra "just in case" time -- in case there is traffic, in case it takes you a long time to park at the airport and get through security -- so long that you miss your flight. Most important, relax. Getting upset, whether you are awaiting tardy guests or stuck at an airport won't help the situation. However, a drink might...
-- The kids will happily eat everything they are served and compliment the chef. That never happens. One kid has just become a vegetarian; another gluten-free. One won't touch anything green while another subsists on only white food. If there are picky eaters in the bunch -- and we're not only talking preschoolers here -- make sure your host is aware and won't take offense. Offer to bring a dish your child will eat. If you're hosting, defuse the situation by checking in advance if there are food issues. Most important, don't take offense if the kids turn up their noses at your artfully crafted gourmet dishes, though they might always surprise you.
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-- The guys will happily volunteer for dish duty, rather than playing touch football outside or settling in to watch afternoon sports on the big-screen TV. You are so lucky if that were to happen. Remind the kids and teens who are old enough that it will be their job to clear the table and do the dishes, perhaps there is an extra treat for them afterward? If your feast doesn't include kids, remind everyone during cocktails that cleanup is a group effort.
But first, another piece of pie!