Thanksgiving is traditionally a time to give thanks. Most of us are pretty good at that. We can usually always find people and situations in life that inspire us to be grateful. Until certain relatives show up for Thanksgiving dinner. Or the supposed friends you wish you hadn’t invited but felt obliged to decide to come. Yup, those.

You know, the ones who talk non-stop, or the ones who expect to be entertained, catered to, and generally treated like royalty while you run around madly trying to satisfy their every inconsiderate whim. Or those who insist on ‘helping’ which usually means creating a mess you have to clean up. Or those who adore their squabbling, noisy children intent on breaking your favorite decoration or pulling the cat’s tail. Etcetera . . .

What to do? Well, you have a choice. I’m reminded of a wonderful video of a severely disabled puppy, completely unaware of his spastic meanderings, and whose human family not only were completely accepting of his disability (with which he coped admirably) but who had only praise for his resilience and courage. Wow. I was so impressed, not just with the dog, but with the family’s attitude.

Could we perhaps adopt a similar attitude when faced with those around our Thanksgiving table? Could we perhaps pay as little attention as possible to their inconvenient foibles, and just be grateful for their unique gifts? After all, talkers usually have something of interest to you buried somewhere in all that blather and don’t require more than the occasional “oh really” or “how nice” to make them happy.

Your Aunt Gertrude expects the royal treatment: well, she doesn’t disrupt anything, she just sits there contentedly once you’ve brought her that special cup of Oolong tea. She’s actually a great example of self-care. OK, taken to the extreme, but still, an example you can learn from.

Children’s energy can be channeled into something other than wanton destruction of decorations or annoying the cat: plan ahead to provide them with games so that you can enjoy their natural exuberance rather than fear it.

There really is something to appreciate in every human being (actually every being) you encounter. Make this a truly memorable and wonderful Thanksgiving by looking for that something in every one of your friends and relatives. You will be all the richer for it.

Author's Bio: 

Noelle C. Nelson, Ph.D., is a psychologist, career and relationship expert and trial consultant. For more than 25 years, Dr. Nelson has worked closely with attorneys and corporate executives applying her expertise on how people think, make decisions and how they commit to those decisions. As a relationship expert, Dr. Nelson has empowered countless individuals to be happier, healthier and more successful at work, at home and in relationships.