In my Love Essentially column, published yesterday in Chicago Tribune Pioneer Press, I offer dating advice for those bringing home a new love to meet the family at Thanksgiving. My best wishes to all of my readers for a safe, happy holiday!!
Guess Who’s Coming To Thanksgiving Dinner? by Jackie Pilossoph
A table full of delicious food, family gathered together, a football game on TV in the background … It’s the picture-perfect Thanksgiving setting, and for many, an ideal time to bring home their new significant other for the first time.
But introducing your new love to your family on what is probably the biggest family holiday of the year could come with a lot of stress. Remember the movie, “Meet The Parents” and how disastrous that turned out?
Let me take off a little pressure by offering 10 tips that might make Thanksgiving dinner with your new squeeze at your family’s table a much smoother and more enjoyable experience.
1. Prepare your family. Offering your family some insight about your new guy or girl could be helpful in preventing any uncomfortable moments. For example, let’s say your new boyfriend or girlfriend just got divorced or he or she is a recovering alcoholic. Maybe he or she just lost their job. Telling your family beforehand might be wise in minimizing awkwardness. Even little things, like if he or she doesn’t eat meat. Telling the person cooking the turkey ahead of time could avoid hurt feelings.
2. Prepare your girlfriend/boyfriend. Just as you are telling your family what to expect, it might be a good idea to tell your honey about some things that might happen at your family’s Thanksgiving dinner table. Maybe your cousin will start offering unsolicited relationship advice after too many cocktails, or your aunt and uncle will be continually bickering. Even the fact that your sister will be bringing her four dogs to the dinner is something you might want to share. Fewer surprises means more relaxation for everyone.
3. Divert attention. Many people walking into a roomful of new faces don’t appreciate being the center of attention. So, don’t make a huge production out of introductions. Be casual and low-key. Trust me, by the end of the night everyone will have made sure to introduce themselves.
4. Determine seating beforehand. Do not seat the love of your life next to your inquisitive niece who should be working for the National Enquirer. Think carefully about who will make him or her feel the most comfortable during the meal. And it goes without saying, make sure you are seated next to your date!
5. Minimize drinking. It’s OK to have a cocktail to celebrate and/or to ease the stress of bringing someone new to meet your family, but don’t overdo it. The last thing you want to do is get sloppy and become overly emotional if someone in your family says or does something to embarrass you. Let’s be honest, excessive drinking does one of two things. It either makes things seem worse or it gives you false courage to say or do something you might regret the next day.
6. Be yourself and let your family be themselves. If you truly love the person you brought home to meet your family, you will love them 10 times more when you see that you can be yourself around your family and he or she still loves you (or even loves you more). And when you let your family just be who they are – with no filter, and you just laugh and love each of them for exactly who you are, and then you see your boyfriend or girlfriend still love you the same, it will melt you.
7. Let your significant other be him/herself. Don’t feel like you have to stand by your date’s side explaining or rationalizing everything they say to your family. Your family is either going to give you the thumbs up or thumbs down about him or her. So let them decide. You are powerless at this point, so just accept that. Don’t you know in your heart that you wouldn’t have brought him or her into your family’s house if you didn’t think they’d love him or her as much as you do?
8. Don’t smother, but don’t abandon. Have faith that the man or woman you love can hold their own. You don’t need to be at his or her side every second. That said, don’t walk away for an hour and assume your date will enjoy working the room. Click here to read the rest of the column, published yesterday in Chicago Tribune Pioneer Press.