Do You Have In-Laws Coming for Thanksgiving? Here’s What to Do

By Nancy Flory Published on November 24, 2020

SHE is coming. Yep, my husband’s mom, who lives out of state, is on her way to my house as I write. She’ll be here early to thaw the turkey. Two days before Thanksgiving. 

I can only imagine others have similar situations. You’ve got in-laws coming and Thanksgiving isn’t … well, the best time of your life. We smile and put on our best behavior while they’re here, but let’s be honest. Our blood pressure goes down when we shut the door after they’ve left. Sometimes it’s tough to deal with in-laws. But I have some thoughts for those of us who struggle with putting on a brave face during Thanksgiving. Here are some ideas of what you can do. 

Hit a Pillow

Paul Vitti (Robert De Niro) in Analyze This was stressed out. He was told by his therapist (Billy Crystal) that he might feel better if he hit a pillow. Vitti pulled out a gun and shot the pillow multiple times. Shocked and scared, Dr. Sobel asked Vitti if he felt better. “Yeah, I do,” Vitti said.

Okay, so maybe you should just hit a pillow with your hand. It may make you feel better. In any event, like Vitti, keep your therapist on speed dial.

Take Your Meds

Time to take those medications you’ve been prescribed but felt you could live without. Now’s not the time to go cold turkey (pun intended). You have them for a reason. Take them. They just might help you get through the turkey dinner and until you’ve closed the door. If nothing else, you should be the happiest person at the table.

Focus on a Happy Place

Try to mentally put yourself in your happy place. It might be the beach, a ski trip, or a visit to the dentist. Whatever it is, keep it in mind at the dinner table when your mother-in-law begins to talk about your husband’s first wife. It might save her life.

Commandeer the Conversation

Have five conversation starters in your back pocket and be prepared to use them. The minute your brother-in-law begins to talk about his gallbladder surgery, begin talking about how your company has surpassed its fourth-quarter goals in revenue. Or how you will get a tax refund. Or your latest visit to the dentist. Anything will do. Keep talking until you get back in your happy place. Which you have by mentioning your dentist. 

Have Something Else to Do

Do your in-laws want to help you put up the tree after dinner? Politely decline. You will need to work on your taxes, even if they are a few months away. You want to be prepared. Or perhaps you need to go to the office. Whatever it is, keep it in mind to thwart any extra time with your in laws. 

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These are some ways to handle Thanksgiving with your in-laws. And while it’s tough, you can make Thanksgiving more pleasant by following these simple points. 

But for real — give thanks for those who are with you during this time of thanksgiving. Appreciate your loved ones and be thankful they are with you, even if they irk you some. Here are some biblical ways to handle Thanksgiving.

Give Thanks

Psalm 30:4 says, “Sing praises to the Lord, O you faithful ones, and give thanks to his holy name.” Let’s be thankful for the blessings the Lord has given us. And for those of us who have lost loved ones this year, give thanks for the time we had with them. “And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in the one body. And be thankful.” (Colossians 3:15)

Show Love to Others

My pastor always says, “Love God, love people.” That is the essence of the most important commandments. Show God’s love to those at your table this Thanksgiving. Make a point of showing grace to those who may not even deserve it. Who knows? Maybe it will soften their heart toward you and toward God.

Share God’s Blessings

As you are thankful to God for His provision over the year, share those blessings with others. Perhaps you know a shut in who could use a nice meal. Take it to them. Show the love of Christ through your actions to the least of these this Thanksgiving.

Of course, all of these are suggestions. 

If these don’t completely work, there’s always the pillow.

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