Today's reader writes:
“I'm so frustrated. My husband just agreed to have his entire family over for Thanksgiving in TWO weeks! How am I supposed to clean, shop, cook, clean, and host for all of them with such short notice? I only get a couple of days off work myself, and I really don't want to feel like I'm still working!!”
Ahh that is SO annoying when a significant other agrees to plans involving you and your home (not to mention a ton of work) without consulting you first! I can promise you, I'd be seeing red if that was me. But since we can't change the past – or people for that matter – let's focus on the future!
How To Handle Unexpected Thanksgiving Guests When You Feel Alone
1. Talk about how you wish things were handled
Avoid shaming or being resentful during this conversation. Like I said, you can't change the past or people, but you may catch more flies with honey! Focus on explaining why his decision upset you, especially if it's the workload. Now if it's more complicated than the workload – like you just don't want his family in your house for eight hours – that's something you'll also want to talk about too, delicately.
Your explanation for why you're upset or frustrated should only be a sentence or two. It's not the point of this conversation, it's just so he can understand where you're coming from. The point of this conversation is to move towards a solution for handling situations like this in the future. Make sure to state how you wish things were handled.
For example, “Hey honey, listen, I'm going to hunker down and make this Thanksgiving happen, but I need to just get this off my chest – I wish you would've talked with me first. I'm really burnt out at work and was looking forward to the mini self care staycation, only now it feels like more work with hosting everyone. Like I said, what's done is done so I don't want to harp on it, but in the future can you ask me first?”
2. Make a plan to tackle it as a team
Remember, that it's just as much your home as it is your husbands. And it's just as much your holiday as it is everyone else's. Write out a list of everything you need to get done and divide it up! Choose 2-3 dishes you plan on cooking, and assign the remaining dishes to the family members coming. Ask your husband to check in with you during Thanksgiving Day to see if you need help cleaning or serving – because LBH, as the woman hosting it can be easy to get tunnel vision of what needs to be done and forget to ask for help, and men can get caught up with entertaining the guests and football. After the meal, put him running point on clean up so you can actually eat and kick up your feet!
The holidays can be crazy and chaotic. They rarely go as expected so just focus on having some fun! Your Thanksgiving doesn't need to be “Pinterest Perfect.” It doesn't need to be anything actually! Whether it's fabulous or awful, that's your choice and how you choose to interpret and tackle all the events that unfold!
If you are in a similar Thanksgiving dilemma with less notice…
Don't worry! All these rules still apply! Seriously, even if it's Thanksgiving day and your brother-in-law shows up with his random new girlfriend/boyfriend it's okay! Tell him the more the merrier, but he needs to go out and get more refreshments or ice or whatever is needed. There's nothing wrong with asking people to work for their seat at the table (or on the floor if there isn't room!).
Remember, anyone who shows up uninvited or last-minute, is CHOOSING to. So you aren't responsible for creating the perfect holiday for them (or anyone for that matter). They're probably just grateful to have somewhere to go that isn't lonely or full of fighting. Focus on having a good time and the rest will work itself out.
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Originally published 11/12/18