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Anxiety over holiday cooking
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Anon_11642 posted:
I just hate holiday cooking etc - I get so nervous and know I should do it for my family but go through so much stress and lost sleep over it - mainly Thanksgiving. I haven't invited my daughter and family (has 3 kids) yet for Thanksgiving but know I should and then when I do I go into anxiety - it's really hard for me - I'm different from most people as I don't enjoy it and dread it.

Can you offer any suggestions? Why do I have to stress so much over this? Have always been this way but maybe my age of 69 doesn't help - anything to share to help me cope? Thanks for listening.
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momuv4girls responded:
Just a thought here, but why don't you make it easy on yourself and order a "pre-done meal" ?
Many stores offer Thanksgiving meals that you pre-order, then pick up that morning.

In my opinion, Thanksgiving should be about getting together with friends and family, enjoying eachother, talking, playing games etc.....

I think a lot of people dread the chores / cooking, so be easy on yourself and don't cook!

Take care,
-Kathleen
 
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Anon_11642 replied to momuv4girls's response:
thanks for responding - appreciate your good thoughts. I would feel guilty not making a meal for all my family - you know if they lived where I do it would be easy but they stay for 3 days and I get very anxious. For Easter, I had it and on the next day I had to lay down and they entertained themselves outside with old friends, etc - laying down for 3 hours - didn't sleep but just had too much anxiety. They all got out of here fast when I told them I had to lie down - lying down and feeling guilty - hate it.

I think I figured this whole thing out - I hate to admit it but I dont like responsibility even though I have worked most of my life - don't understand it except when I was growing up I had an older sister and she was the one that was allowed in the kitchen to help my mother - they didn't want me around because then they told me 3 women in the kitchen is too much. I dont like the blame game but if I didn't like that I could have turned it around - but I guess I don't like responsibility and am not used to lots of kids and people around - it's pretty quiet usually and that in itself is an adjustment. I just feel "hopeless" and not good feelings for me when I see others doing so much more.

Thanks for posting.
 
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Patricia Farrell, PhD responded:
Perhaps you are taking too much on yourself and not allocating some of the things to others. Thanksgiving should be a time when everyone pitches in to enjoy the fact that you each have each other and are there to help. If there's a holiday that means "I need help here" without your having to say it, this is it. If no one thinks to offer, it's time for you to let them know what you need.

Make a list of the things that need to be prepared, or the decorations you need and ask who wants to do what. If they don't pick, begin assigning them tasks and let them be responsible for it. It's EVERYONE's holiday, not just your's.

It may not be something that is within your comfort zone, but you have to ask yourself when is it enough for me? When do I begin to let people share the responsibility since it's not healthy for me to try to take on this enormous task alone. Why wouldn't they want to help? If they won't, maybe the holiday has to be celebrated at someone else's home this year. Begin a new tradition.
 
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LidiaL responded:
I so relate to what your saying. I start to get into "panic mode" just with the idea of cooking. I'll soon be 66 and am not so sure that age has anything to do with it. I've had this problem for years and continue to deal with it "for my family's sake." I'm thinking I just might tell my family this year that I'm not able to do it. What could be the worse that would happen? I'll be upset with myself and maybe guilty, my family will be somewhat worried that I asserted myself, but I won't have to go through the awful stress. I think it might be good for anyone of us who is deakling with this issue to think of an alternative rather than continue to deal with this anxiety - maybe if we take only this year off, we can discover how we feel about it and next year could be either a welcome holiday or we can come up with other great plans. I thank you for your post because now I'm positive there are so many others like us out there. I hope to read something from them. All I can think of is - Good Grief, we've paid our dues...why continue putting ourselves through this. Our adult children/friends will survive and even have fun doing their own thing.
 
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sushat responded:
I feel your pain! I am like this too. Since no one else stepped up to host the dinner, we just started going out to a restaurant. Whoever wants to go can join in and everyone pays their own way. The only down side is there are no leftovers, but I'd much rather have that than deal with all the anxiety and stress this holiday creates. I remember one year being so emotionally drained that I spent several hours on the couch the next day trying to regroup. An added stressor, of course, is having your guests staying at your house. Not sure how to handle that other than diplomatically suggest they stay at a motel for everyone's comfort and privacy.
 
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Marynj responded:
You know all those tv shows where people want to renovate their homes so they can "entertain" more? I HATE those shows! I know exactly ONE person who enjoys entertaining -- and it isn't me. But I am stuck with entertaining my family for every single holiday because I am the only one with a house (everybody else lives in a small apartment). So over the years, my husband and I have adapted. We plan a meal where we can cook as much in advance as possible -- cookie dough that is made weeks ahead then put in the oven (still frozen) the day of the event; potatoes gratin made a couple of days ahead and then put in the oven an hour before Thanksgiving dinner; mashed potatoes from a local restaurant that makes them better than we do, picked up in the AM and microwaved before dinner, etc.It IS manageable! Try to do as much in advance as possible for Thanksgiving Day. Then, as far as I'm concerned, you're off the hook for the rest of the weekend. Really, you're 69 -- you DESERVE a break. As long as you have cereal and milk in your house, why do you need to be Betty Crocker and have 3 perfect meals every day? I'm younger than you, but I feel that after providing my home and a meal, I deserve a break, too. Do Not Feel Guilty. You're a wonderful person for providing a place for everybody to gather. And that's where it ends. Your grown guests can pick up the slack thereafter. And if you're tired and need to rest the day after Thanksgiving, then rest. No apology is necessary. If your children feed the grandkids the rest of the year, they can do it the day after Thanksgiving too. Relax!
 
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Patricia Farrell, PhD replied to Marynj's response:
You've all posted such wonderful, supportive responses here and you are all totally right; everyone needs to pitch in here and no one person should be picking up everything. It's time for a tradition change and that's fine because in life everything changes over the years.

No guilt needed, either. The guilty ones should be the slackers who aren't offering without being told to help. Let them know. If you don't, they see it as a signal that all is right and they don't need to be concerned or involved.

Yes, that's what restaurants are for and you don't run a restaurant, you run a home. If guests really NEED to stay over, let them know they are on their own because you need a break or they can, of course, stay at a local motel or hotel, if they wish. So, they have a choice, not maid service in your home.
 
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alloen responded:
i'm only eighteen, but since i was younger, i've been in charge of helping my grandmother figure out how to continue handling holiday festivities. this year, i've been told it's my job to take it on entirely -so i can understand, too a degree, where you're coming from. but, often, we make it an event. we have every family attending bring their favorite side dish and dessert (or more, if they can't decide on one) so that way not only do you have to cook less, but you can be certain there will be something for everyone. another thing i've realized that helps a lot is starting a few days in advance -preping vegetables the night before and placing them in water (this can only be done with some!), making cookie dough or pie crusts and freezing them, first course soups can be made days in advance, and like soups, many desserts are fine or even better after being in the fridge for a few days!

most of all, focus on what the holiday is supposed to be about: family. ask a someone to come in and help you for some "quality time". do that for an hour or so, then thank them, wait a bit, and ask someone else for help. having someone else in the kitchen not only can distract you from obsessing over perfection, but will allow you time with that person and an extra set of hands.

good luck! i may be able to give some make-ahead dish recommendations if anyone would like them, too.
 
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parm415 responded:
I am glad you're honest about it, I thought I was the only one!! I dread Thanksgiving thru Christmas season because of the stress and obligatory gift giving. And you know what? so what! There's nothing wrong with how you feel! I love my family, but they're a pain in the ass! It's alot of work and little reward. You could also putting alot of pressure on yourself feeling you have to make the holiday perfect. What I find works for me is constantly telling myself that I'm not auditioning and since I don't expect perfection going to anyone else's home, I should not expect the same for myself. I realize I'm my own worst enemy. and Breathe!
 
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Kmcayford responded:
Hi, I think your anxiety over Thanksgiving is more common than you realize. I am 56 years old, and have always had anxiety about having family gatherings. I always feel like I have to have everything perfect, and be the "perfect" hostess. I get anxious about preparing the turkey, etc., and by the time everything is ready I am worn out, physically and mentally!

Can you tell your daughter how you feel? Have you considered going to a restaurant for Thanksgiving or even the day after?

Thanksgiving is only one day out of the year. I hope you will not put high expectations, pressures on yourself, and don't feel guilty if you are not up to having family at your house.


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