The Thanksgiving of 1987 I had just started dating someone less than a month earlier. Her plan was to go to her mother’s house, about an hour away. My plan had been – well, I had no particular plan, which had been my m.o. for much of the late 1970s to the mid-1990s. So I went with her.
This was at a big old country house, and 20-odd people were to share the meal. Meeting that many strangers at one time was not my favorite situation. Among other things, I’m terrible at remembering the names of that many people in a compressed period of time; they don’t wear name tags.
My general solution for dealing with stressful situations is Being Useful. In addition to making some chitchat, I probably set the table, and almost certainly answered the door when newcomers arrived.
I did none of the cooking, and with four or five people in the kitchen, I had no desire to be in there. After dinner, my Being Useful really kicked in, as I volunteered to wash the dishes. This involved soaking the pans, and then hand washing the bowls, plates, silverware – no dishwasher here – then wash the pans at the end.
And that was fine; I LIKE washing dishes. Maybe it’s a water sign thing. I’m sure I had help, with someone drying the dishes and putting them away.
If you’re ever in a gathering of folks you don’t know, try Being Useful. It’s seen as helpful, rather than antisocial.