Dear Vicki: Thanksgiving is less than one month away and I’m dreading it. I hate Thanksgiving. It’s so much work! I remember my mother used to cook for days to be ready for Thanksgiving dinner. And then it took hours to clean up after it. She never complained, but it must have bothered her when Dad and my brothers went off to watch football while my sister and I helped Mom clean the kitchen. My girls are teenagers now and while I’ve made the “traditional” Thanksgiving meal all of their lives, and they have helped me, I’ve dreamed about doing things differently. I want to honor the idea of being grateful – that’s the most important part – and I want my family to have a wonderful holiday, but when I suggest changing it up a little in the food department to make things easier, my husband refuses to break with tradition. Secretly, I’d like to boycott the whole holiday this year, but then I feel guilty. Am I a horrible mom? Signed: Hates Turkey
Dear Hates Turkey: The short answer is that, no, you are not a horrible mom. Actually, you seem like a pretty honest mom to me. You care about your family and want to do well for them, but you also want to make it easier for you and your girls. That is very reasonable and actually very loving. The fact that you really want to make a good Thanksgiving holiday for your family but are feeling guilty that you might not be doing enough for your family suggests that you probably have a good amount of Earth energy in your personality. Earths care about making and keeping people happy. They want to do the best they can for their friends and family. But a balanced Earth will also know when and where to draw the line so they don’t become a squishy doormat. Congratulations on knowing when to raise your hand and ask for change!
And then there is your husband. People who value traditions and want to stick with them usually have a Metal personality. As we have said here many times, Metal people focus on the past. From that perspective, they determine what has worked before, what has not, and what should be carried forward. “If it isn’t broken, don’t fix it,” is a common Metal anthem. This sounds like your husband, right? The Thanksgiving traditions have worked for him, so why change them?
Part of the problem here is that in the Five Elements model, you and your husband relate to each other on the Nurturing Cycle, which is usually a good indication that the relationship will be, as it says, nurturing. However, it is your Earth that feeds his Metal, which often creates an expectation in both the Earth person and the Metal person that it is the Earth’s job the keep the Metal happy. And that is often a hard perception to counter because Metal people like having things done for them and Earth people like doing things for people they love. The problem is that Earths will often do things for others at their own expense, which by definition, isn’t good for the Earth. Fortunately for you, this is a perfect time to change that dynamic.
The good news about Metal people is that they are infinitely rational. They will change their mind if presented with irrefutable fact. Also, because he is your husband, it is safe to assume that this particular Metal is invested in you being happy. (And if this isn’t the case, you have bigger problems than what to serve for Thanksgiving dinner.) I encourage you to come up with a plan for this Thanksgiving that makes things easier on you. This could range from eating out, to cutting back on the amount of food you serve, to trying a whole new menu. Given your husband’s previous insistence on tradition, it is unlikely he will want to eat out or serve a whole new menu. But he might be willing to cut back on the variety in the menu, especially if you explain that you no longer enjoy the holiday.
Also, while I don’t know where you live, there is probably a wide range of options near you to have the whole Thanksgiving dinner catered. Most large grocery stores offer Thanksgiving meal packages, often featuring organic birds and all the traditional fixings. Nearby restaurants may also offer packages. This might appeal to you, and it may not. Earth people usually take pride in preparing food and serving it lovingly to their family and friends, so I suspect that you will opt for fixing a traditional dinner, but just less of it. That’s a great start!
The next part of the plan is to enlist your husband’s assistance in the food preparation. Again, a Metal person will agree to almost anything if there is a sound, rational reason for it. Build the case as to why he should help. Family time together, good role modeling for your daughters, “many hands make light work,” whatever you think will be convincing to him. Then present your case in a way that is sincere and honest. And because Metal people are generally very kind, he will probably agree to help, especially if you give him something easy to do well and express gratitude for his help. Like all people, Metals like to be appreciated.
These are simple suggestions, but because they take into account your elemental personality as well as your husband’s, I think they will help you like (if not love) Thanksgiving again. And I applaud you for remembering that the most important part of Thanksgiving is being thankful. I hope you enjoy your streamlined dinner this year as you share your gratitude around the table. Blessings to you!