How to Ensure a Happy Holiday Table

The Holiday Table is a favorite of mine. It’s not the same as a long table at an event. It needs the background of a holiday, preferably Thanksgiving or Christmas.

A less-than-perfect picture of our Thanksgiving table (taken with my iPhone). Totally forgot to get up and take one during dinner… was too busy having a great time with family and some new friends.

If you visit a holiday gathering with my family, and you try to follow a conversation between just two people, your head will spin like a top on steroids. We talk over and around and through each other, and if we can’t hear each other because the other 17 people in the room are talking, we just talk louder.

I am sure this is not a unique experience, specific to my family. And it is part of the reason the holiday table is one of my absolute favorite places to visit throughout the entire year.

At my kind of holiday table, it’s loud, crowded, and if we’re lucky, full of a dinner that appears like the Great Hall feasts in Harry Potter. Elbow room is at a premium, and you wait and wait (and wait some more) for the mashed potatoes while the bowl goes around the table. (Unless you’re lucky enough to have a grandpa who will scoop you a big heap first because he knows it’s your favorite). Glasses are clanking, forks and knives are scraping, someone is probably dropping something.

Holiday tables bring great joy, great spirits to the season. They can also bring a good amount of sadness, as we remember our favorite people throughout the years whose face we no longer see across or up or down the table.

And it’s easy to be irritated at the noise level. It’s easy to be annoyed at the family member who doesn’t change, the obnoxious individual who insists on telling the loudest, dirtiest joke. But, some suggestions to scale back the distress:

1. Go with the flow of the room. I said this in You Don’t Have to Shout to Be Heard, because when we stop fighting what is right in front of us (as long as it presents us no true harm), our acceptance and enjoyment of a circumstance increases big time.

2. Invite some new blood. Many people don’t have anywhere to go for the holidays and would appreciate the invite. Maybe some new blood will switch up the conversation, change the direction of the awkward jokes nobody laughs at. American friends of ours last year had a spontaneous late-night Christmas Eve celebration with a Peruvian family, and it was one of their best holidays.

3. Smile. Mirror synapses can be an extra tool to get you through the holidays. You know how people looking at or talking with you yawn when you yawn? They are also more likely to smile if you smile, more likely to laugh if you laugh. Give it a shot.

May your tables and tummies be full this holiday season!

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You tell me:

What is the personality of your holiday table? I’d love to see pictures and stories of your holiday tables to then turn around and feature on here. Send me yours (ecpompili@gmail.com) then pass this along and encourage your friends to do the same!

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