Modern etiquette tips to have a great, drama-free family gathering
IT seems that as soon as November 1 arrives, families across the country goes into a yuletide frenzy in preparation for the holidays. Plane tickets are booked, early planners begin shopping for gifts and everyone excited for time off to spend with loved ones.
The first stop of the holiday season is the annual Thanksgiving gathering of family and loved ones to reflect on the year over a vast, delicious spread of classic Thanksgiving food selections.
Thanksgiving dinners, although usually congenial, can divert into an awkward situation if we aren’t mindful of our behavior. Here are some tips on how to be the perfect Thanksgiving dinner guest:
RSVP to the host
I know this is common courtesy, but letting the host know whether you’ll be there is essential. It ensures they know how many people to expect in their home. It also lets them know how much food should be prepared. Pro tip: use e-mail or social media sites like Facebook to create the closed event and invite the whole family. This is especially useful for potlucks, a staple of the Filipino gathering, so everyone has a gauge on how much food to bring.
Be on time!
The “Filipino time” phenomenon is very real, as we all know. Although arriving on time should be practiced all year around and we often give our loved ones a pass for arriving a few minutes (or hours) late, be extra mindful to be punctual on Thanksgiving. For most Filipino families, a prayer precedes dinner and you never want to be the person strolling in late. Showing up on time shows respect and consideration for the host and the other guests. But most importantly, you want to be there while the food is still warm!
Dress to impress
Filipinos tend to gather as a family more times out of the year than other families, which means we’re are more comfortable with each other and the need to dress to impress falls by the wayside. But Thanksgiving is a special night with many relatives coming from out of town, which means guaranteed group photos that all your titas are inevitably going to post on Facebook and you may want to look your best. Knit sweaters and tailored trousers are always fall great options for the chilly weather. For those who want to adhere to seasonal aesthetics, autumnal colors like rich cocoas, aubergines, khaki green and navy blue are ideal. But remember: comfort is key since you’re likely going to eat for most of the day.
Show you’re thankful for the old-timers
We should always respect the seniors in our families, but given it’s Thanksgiving — a day dedicated to honoring our blessings — we should take extra care to make sure we show our elders that we’re grateful for them. They’ve raised us, taught us invaluable lessons and continue to embody resilience and strength. Let your lolas and lolos get food first, assist them with seconds and make sure they’re as comfortable and relaxed as possible. They’ve done in for us their whole lives, it’s our turn to give back.
Put down the phone
It’s tempting to want to share every moment of your Thanksgiving family gathering with your friends on social media. With all the apps available to share your experience with the world, we can get lost in trying to show the world what’s going on in our lives while forgetting to actually live our lives. Staying in the moment on Thanksgiving is not only respectful to your family, but very fulfilling. For most, Thanksgiving also operates as a family reunion of sorts with many family members traveling from far distances. It’s a chance to catch-up, crack jokes and just be together and feel thankful for all the loved ones in your life.
Avoid talking politics
This one is important. When it comes to politics, the Filipino community is vast; like most cultural dynamics, older Filipinos tend to be more conservative and younger Filipino-Americans tend to lean more liberally. 2017 was a very divisive year for Americans, so it’s easy for the conversation to devolve into a yelling match among those with impassioned political pursuits. But that’s not in the best interests of the family or what the day is really meant for. In order to have an easygoing Thanksgiving that focusses on the real meaning of the holiday, it’s best to put the political talk aside.
At the end of the night, offer to help clean up
Filipino parties are notoriously very, very well-attended and Thanksgiving is probably one of the biggest family gatherings of the year. The bigger the party, the bigger the mess. Even if you’re not a host of the party, you should do your part and offer to help with throwing away trash, emptying out cups, packing food and washing dishes. You’d want someone to help you out with all that, right?