Navigating Thanksgiving Turbulence, Why Thanksgiving Can Feel Like a Soap Opera

Lauro Amezcua-Patino, MD, FAPA.
11 min readNov 22, 2023

by Lauro Amezcua-Patino, MD, FAPA.

by Lauro Amezcua-Patino, MD, FAPA.

Setting the Stage.

Perfectionist Pete: Picture Pete, who wants everything just so. If the cranberry sauce doesn’t have the right tang, it’s a recipe for disaster, literally.

Critical Carol: Carol, the aunt who has an opinion on everything, from your career choices to the way you carve the turkey.

Political Paul: Then there’s Uncle Paul, ready to ignite a debate about the latest news, regardless of the audience.

Over the past five years, things have morphed. The Trump era, the pandemic, the rise of social media echo chambers — they’ve all added a dash of tension to the Thanksgiving gravy.

Thanksgiving is a time for gratitude, reflection, and, of course, delicious feasts. However, for many families, this holiday is also notorious for heated arguments and strained relationships. The reasons behind these disputes during Thanksgiving are complex and multifaceted, often stemming from a combination of long-standing family dynamics, differing perspectives, and the pressures associated with holiday expectations.

The tumult of holiday time can bring a lot of suppressed tension to the surface. Expectations from perfectionists, criticism from parents, judgmental cousins, competitive siblings, and politically vocal grandparents can all make the stress of it unbearable.

Over the past 5-years, family gatherings have changed. Recent events like the Trump era, the COVID pandemic, and the normalization of bad behaviors have altered the tone of Thanksgiving. The loss of nostalgic warm family gatherings, the infusion of tensions around politics and pent-up pandemic frustrations, and why this holiday now exacts a greater mental health toll on many Americans.

by Lauro Amezcua-Patino, MD, FAPA.

Why So Many Arguments:

Why do so many people find it challenging to get through Thanksgiving without arguing and provide tips on how to foster a more harmonious atmosphere during this festive season? A…

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Lauro Amezcua-Patino, MD, FAPA.

Dr. Lauro Amezcua-Patiño: Bilingual psychiatrist, podcaster, clinical leader, educator, and researcher. Expert in forensic medicine and mental health issues.