You’ve never seen eye to eye with your mother in law. Last year, Uncle Fred called you a rather unflattering name. The politics of half the family leave you shaking your head. How can you get through the family Thanksgiving meal without choking on the tense atmosphere?


Thanksgiving is a major production for most hosts. It involves plenty of shopping, preparation, and house cleaning. But when you’re having a difficult time dealing with family members, you may not feel inclined to do so – or show up to someone else’s house. If you do grace the family with your presence, you most likely do it grudgingly.

And that just isn’t acceptable.

Here’s how you can make it through the big meal with your attitude and grace intact.

  • Be grateful. If someone else is preparing the meal, spend some time appreciating the effort that went into doing so. In fact, think through all these tasks and ask if you can do something to help.
  • Make amends. Granted, Uncle Fred isn’t everyone’s cup of sunshine. But you probably did something wrong in that exchange, too. While Thanksgiving is still a few days away, try to make amends. A brief, heartfelt apology for your side of the spat can significantly diminish tensions around the table.
  • Keep expectations realistic. Your family will never be like those folks you see in the holiday movies. And that’s just the way it is. And you know what else? Nobody else’s family is perfect either.
  • Don’t take the bait. Politics, religion, and money are the big three topics to avoid. Just because everyone else chimes in doesn’t mean you have to. Keep your end of the conversation light.
  • Don’t make big announcements. If you have something to say that could be controversial, keep it to yourself until another time. This may be a job change, your plans to marry, your thoughts on quitting college, or your decision to move out of the county/country. Save it for a more opportune time.

Remember that the Bible doesn’t teach us to forgive and forget. Instead, it instructs us to forgive as God did (Ephesians 4:32). Maybe the person sitting next to you at the Thanksgiving table doesn’t deserve your forgiveness based on her or his own merits. In this case, forgive for the sake of Christ, and choose to move on. Otherwise, you might just nurture a bitter root (Hebrews 12:15) that doesn’t benefit you.