🔑 Today’s tip: To get someone to open up, lead with thoughtful observations, not questions.

“How are you?” It’s the easiest and most obvious question to ask, but a hard one to answer without resorting to pleasantries. And more often than not, with friends and family we haven’t seen for some time, it’s a conversational dead end.

If you’re genuinely curious about a person’s wellbeing, Ashley Abramson suggests a different approach: Start out with an observation. “The goal is to encourage the other person to open up about how they’re doing by showing you care,” Abramson writes, “so frame your observation in a way that won’t make them feel judged or misinterpreted”—for example, by starting with “I’ve noticed that” or “I’m wondering,” as in, “I’ve noticed that you’re quieter lately; I’m wondering if you’re stressed?” …


This week, the Daily Tip is offering advice on how to approach this strange holiday time.

💻 Today’s tip: Don’t feel the need to fill every pause on your Zoom call.

No matter how much you miss the people on the other side of the screen, an hours-long Zoom call can be tiring. It’s hard to maintain lively conversation via video, and at this point, we’re all sick of staring at our own faces, anyway.

One fix: Think of your Zoom less like a conversation and more like a hangout. What would you be doing if you were all together for real? One person might be cooking. Another might settle onto the couch with a book. …


This week, the Daily Tip is offering advice on how to approach this strange holiday time.

🦃 Today’s tip: Abandon the idea of the “perfect Thanksgiving” — it was always a lie, anyway.

Okay, stop for a moment. Step away from the magazine spread of perfectly burnished turkeys and pastry-autumn-leaf-adorned pies. Stop scrolling Instagram’s catalog of windswept and unstressed extended families frolicking amid foliage.

And let Livia Gershon set you straight about our aspirational modern version of this holiday: “While Thanksgiving has changed a lot over the decades,” she pronounced in Forge, “it’s always been a complicated, angsty affair.” …


This week, the Daily Tip is offering advice on how to approach this strange holiday time.

🦃 Today’s tip: Abandon the idea of the “perfect Thanksgiving” — it was always a lie, anyway.

OK, stop for a moment. Step away from the magazine spread of perfectly burnished turkeys and pastry-autumn-leaf-adorned pies. Stop scrolling Instagram’s catalog of windswept and unstressed extended families frolicking amid foliage.

And let Livia Gershon set you straight about our aspirational modern version of the American holiday: “While Thanksgiving has changed a lot over the decades,” she pronounced in Forge, “it’s always been a complicated, angsty affair.” …


Photo: RyanJLane/Getty Images

Not to be one of those “I did it before it was cool” people, but, well, I considered myself a video-call expert long before Zoom moved to the forefront of all our lives. I spent roughly four years in a long-distance relationship, which means I had a lot of time to perfect the art of hanging out with a loved one through a screen. And here, on the other side of those years, is the single most valuable piece of advice I have to offer: The best video call is one where you’re doing something else.

If you’re not seeing family in person for Thanksgiving this year, think back to how you’ve used that time together in past visits. Yes, being in the same physical place can make it easier to have focused, free-flowing conversations about what’s going on in each of your lives. But a uniquely wonderful part of being together is the ability to just be together. It’s the freedom to chat absentmindedly in fits and starts as you cook dinner. To sit in comfortable silence while two people work on a puzzle and one person does a crossword and one just kind of daydreams and sips their glass of wine. To briefly look up from your book or couch nap, share a laugh about that weird thing the dog just did, and then get back to it. …


This week, the Daily Tip is offering advice on how to approach this strange holiday time.

🦃 Today’s tip: Give yourself permission to not recreate holiday traditions this year.

Look, there’s no way around the fact that this Thanksgiving is going to look very different from Thanksgivings past. Re-creating a perfect replica of your usual holiday feast will not change that. Forcing holiday cheer on your family Zoom call will not change that.

So why not just… free yourself from the burden of pretending? If treating the day like a celebration feels like too much to ask of yourself, then don’t. “Acceptance is the first step to dealing with any painful experience,” Ashley Abramson writes. “We compound our own suffering when we tell ourselves we shouldn’t feel a certain way.” When you acknowledge that yes, this sucks, you give yourself room to find ways to feel better. You never really liked turkey anyway? …


This week, the Daily Tip is offering advice on how to approach this strange holiday time.

☎️ Today’s tip: This week, block off time for a long phone call.

We’re all feeling extra grateful for our various group chats and text threads these days. But when it comes to really connecting, there’s nothing like an old fashioned, real-time phone call, especially during a week that’s going to be tough for a lot of people. As Tim Harper writes, “Besides information, a voice can express feelings. We can sense others’ joy or fear or uncertainty, especially if we know them well.”

Bonus points if you can cosplay an old-fashioned landline, and stay put while talking. No walking, no multitasking. …


This week, the Daily Tip is offering advice on how to approach this strange holiday time.

🦃 Today’s tip: Use your Thanksgiving Zoom call to share family stories.

Just because you won’t all be gathered around the same table doesn’t mean you can’t use Thanksgiving to strengthen your family bonds. In fact, as the therapist Kathleen Smith notes, without your usual holiday routines, this year is the perfect time to think about how you can be more intentional in nurturing your relationships with loved ones.

Smith’s recommendation: Dial up your curiosity. “As you share a Zoom meal or a holiday phone call, consider asking your parents, siblings, grandparents, and others to fill in the missing pieces of your family’s story,” she writes. “Is there an ancestor you know little about? Do you know how your family celebrated Thanksgiving 20, 30, or 50 years ago?” You may learn something new, or uncover a juicy piece of family lore. At the very least, you’ll come away feeling more connected to the people on the other side of the screen. …


Photo: Photographer, Basak Gurbuz Derman/Getty Images

Most Thanksgivings, from the moment you shrug off your coat in a relative’s hallway to start the flurry of hugs, you already know how the next few hours are going to play out.

Holiday time is a story we tell ourselves, over and over, beat by familiar beat: The smell of Grandma’s famous mac and cheese in the oven, the cousin game of touch football, the point in the night when Aunt Nancy inevitably gets a little wine-tipsy and tries to start a sing-along. You’ve done this all before. You’ll do it again.

This, obviously, is not most Thanksgivings. And as many of us prepare to spend the holiday apart from our loved ones, Veronica Walsingham shares her go-to homesickness remedy, one that still involves the comfort of well-known, well-loved stories: the TV binge. …


This week, the Daily Tip is offering advice on how to approach this strange holiday time.

🦃 Today’s tip: Take Thanksgiving week off (or at least a day).

We’ve now entered the week of Thanksgiving 2020, and the only productivity advice that makes any sense right now comes from the writer Julio Vincent Gambuto: Take the week off.

If your job affords you the privilege, just do it. Take off whatever time you can. “This year has given us no other choice,” Gambuto writes. “So let’s make the most of this seasonal pause: We all need a week of rest, a week of gratitude, and a week to recover from the fall work surge, the trauma of the election, and the nightmare of this interminable pandemic.” As for how you should spend your vacation days during quarantine, Forge has a plan: Make time to read a good book, take an outing to your nearest beach, and find other ways to restore yourself so that you can power through the coming winter. …

About

Cari Nazeer

Deputy editor, Forge @ Medium

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