Yesterday my sweet friend Julianne Taylor posted a reel on her Instagram page talking about avoiding toxic family members at Thanksgiving. I am paraphrasing but she said "I want to normalize not going to Thanksgiving dinner."
If you dread Thanksgiving because some (or most) of your family members are toxic then don't spend Thanksgiving with them. Family that treats you poorly is not thankful for you; they are only thankful for how you can benefit them or fulfill their expectations. If Thanksgiving can only be done on their terms, if they are going to guilt you or embarrass you, if they are going to point out your failures from the year, if they are going to criticize your parenting, if they are going to make you feel like you are never enough then just don't go. That is not what Thanksgiving should be!
Thanksgiving is a day to be thankful. It should be a joyous and happy occasion. It should be filled with genuine love. It should not be full of strife, stress, and anxiety. The quantity of people doesn't make Thanksgiving; the quantity of love and thanks does. So, if a small gathering is how you achieve that, then small gathering it shall be! Toxic family members often get their way because we appease them in order to ease the stress. Stop appeasing and conforming to them and start making your own holiday traditions! Life is too short!
I truly wish all of you a very happy Thanksgiving full of love and gratitude!