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Burn the Stuffing: A Woman's Thanksgiving Stress-Less Manifesto

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I want to live in one of those Thanksgiving commercials. You know the ones; golden light streaming into an exquisitely decorated dining room, people who seem genuinely happy to gather together, the Thanksgiving table spilling over with plates of gorgeously sculpted food that would make Martha Stewart grind her teeth with envy. If only Thanksgiving reality meshed with that camera-ready fantasy. Thanksgiving marks the start to the holiday season; it also marks the first pangs of the long labor many women endure in order to give the "perfect" holiday to friends and family. Caregiver moms receive an added dose of pressure in their already over-scheduled, over-stuffed, over-flowing lives to keep up or even outpace others in the sprint from Thanksgiving to New Years. Wouldn't it be great to lower the bar, to actually melt the bar completely, on expectations that you'll reprise your annual role of Thanksgiving wunderhostess? And that's why I'm proposing that this year you start the season right with the 10 Point Thanksgiving manifesto.

The following shall be decreed:

1. That there will be a reasonable amount of food at our Thanksgiving feast. Bearing life-threatening allergies or extreme dietary restrictions, there will not be six different types of mashed potatoes, green bean casseroles or a table devoted solely to a medley of cranberry "creations." To crib from J.R.R. Tolkein, there will be ONE oven to cook them all instead of the typical oven, fryer set up in the driveway, toaster oven and fondue pot.

2. That all guests will lay aside their respective differences for the six hours we are forced to gather in one another's company. There will be no heated discussions of politics, religion, race, class, football or impassioned speeches in defense of belong to "Team Edward" or "Team Jacob."

3. That there will be a table set to the best of my ability, within my budget and with accord to my own tastes. There will be no pieces of driftwood hollowed out to hold miniature white pumpkins, no repurposed mason jars beset by salvaged burlap and pine cones for candle holders, no hand-thrown pottery bowls brimming over with exotic fruits and twinkle lights. There will be no utterance of "I saw this on Pinterest."

4. That the men are given a chance to bond in fellowship... while cleaning up after dinner.

5. That if expected to travel during Thanksgiving, I reserve the right to bring slippers and expandable pants (regardless of whether they match or not). I also reserve the right to start taking off my makeup during the dessert course.

6. That my eating habits shall not come under judgement or undue scrutiny. "A skinny Pilgrim would have never survived the first winter" is a statement of fact and shall be repeated often and with increasing volume should aspersion be cast upon my full plate.

7. That I will not sacrifice sleep or sanity to take advantage of Black Friday sales, no matter how much the "hottest" toy/gadget/must-have is thrust upon me via tablet, smart phone or old timey catalogue. Unless said must-have comes with the capability to rub my feet and sympathize with my problems, it can go to the other strung-out mom who's been waiting in line since Labor Day.

8. Did I mention that the same "no judgement" rule applies to my alcohol consumption?

9. That I will partake in watching the game, which is to say watching The Hunger Games while the men continue to clean up.

10. Lastly, for these 24 hours of giving thanks, I relinquish my duties and obligations as score settler, complaint hearer, gripe bearer, disputer arbiter over hand-held electronics or other gaming devices for the youth constituency. In the event that no capable (read: sober) adult can moderate in my absence, I reserve the right to gather the offenders together outside next to a sign that reads: "Free Stuff. No Returns."

Happy Thanksgiving, women of America! Enjoy the holiday. Make it your own, just don't let it own you.