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November 25th, 2010 by Dr. Phil

Thanksgiving: It’s All in the Family

thanksgivingblogTurkey Day! Ahhh. A much needed break that I am looking forward to, especially since I feel like my little family, now expanded by a new granddaughter, has so much to be thankful for. But I recently read an iVillage poll which found that 65 percent of all respondents are expecting some sort of family disagreement to break out before dessert is served on Thanksgiving Day.

And the disagreements aren’t usually about whether to serve pecan or pumpkin pie. For a lot of you, Thanksgiving has become that oh-so-unhappy day during which everyone gathers to carve up a lot more than the turkey. A sister might just happen to mention to another sister that it looks as if she’s gaining weight, and a mother-in-law might say something just slightly sarcastic about her son-in-law’s choice of careers. And then there is always Uncle Harry who drinks more than he eats, and starts flapping his big fat mouth, and tells embarrassing stories about his brother’s first marriage, or at some point, an overly-sensitive niece will break into tears because someone will ask her point-blank if she is EVER going to “catch” a husband!

Let me say right now that I recognize that it’s women who have to deal with most of the stress on Thanksgiving. In a lot of homes, while most of the men are sitting in the den watching football, their better halves are working their fingers to the bone preparing the meal, carefully setting the table, and then deciding where everyone should sit. The women create this perfect environment — only to see it ruined because everyone gets into a 30-minute feud over who gets to be buried in the last family plot at the cemetery. Or Dad starts extolling the virtues of Sarah Palin, which leads Jimmy, the nephew in college, to call her a lunatic, which then sets off 30 more minutes of shouting and finger-pointing across the table about the state of our country. No wonder one in 10 voters in the iVillage poll said they dread Thanksgiving!

May I make a tiny suggestion? If you’ve got one of those combustible families that are ready to go at each other at the drop of a hat, then maybe the thing to do is give them a little speech just before dinner is served. Tell them that you want this year to be a Thanksgiving where everybody leaves the table feeling good about him or herself. Then, before you serve the meal, you might want to try an old McGraw family tradition — have those at the table share one or two things that have happened in the last year that they are most thankful for.

At our house, we follow that tradition every year, in part because I’m a big believer in rituals, and in part because I believe in the importance of Thanksgiving Day – stopping our usual routines once a year and calling a time-out just so we can say our thank yous. You might set a similar tone for your family, saying that this is going to be a day in which you focus solely on celebrating the lives we’ve all been given — and, at least, for this one day, to put aside your disappointments. Then, give everyone a very pleasant smile, and off you go.

On this Thanksgiving, I know I have so much to celebrate. As I said earlier, since this time last year, I’ve become a grandfather. I’ve continued to watch my sons prosper, pursuing their passions in television and music. Robin simply amazes me with her energy, her ambition and her compassion. And I’m so grateful to my team at the Dr. Phil show for their dedication to making a difference.

May you find peace this Thanksgiving. And if that argument does eventually break out about that family cemetery plot, just keep smiling and try to remember: there’s always next year. As for me, I’m keeping my head low and my mouth full.  Ahhh, Thanksgiving Day.

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28 Responses to “Thanksgiving: It’s All in the Family”

  1. Tayler Staneff says:

    Hi Dr. Phil,

    I am a huge fan of your show and my mother and I make a routine out of sitting down together to watch what drama unfolds next. You are clearly a very intelligent man, and I commend you for the great work you do. I have noticed throughout watching the show, that you often comment on how much of an animal lover you are. However, I fail to understand how you can term yourself as a lover of animals if you eat them. Thanksgiving is a time of mass murder for these animals… I have considered writing for quite some time, and after seeing this post with a picture of a turkey… I figured now was the time.

    It breaks my heart that such an intelligent and important figure, such as yourself, does not look into these industries. I have seen your shows on animal abuse, and it is great that you are bringing some of these issues to attention. However, dogfighting is only a small fraction of abuse that goes on. Billions of farmed animals are killed each year in the meat industry, billions of animals are mutilated, tortured and killed in animal experimentation each year, millions are killed for the fur and leather industries, and millions around the world are used in entertainment.

    I will continue to watch your show, as I believe that you do great work in helping others in their lives. However, I wish that you would open your heart to the other species in the world who need a voice as great and powerful as yours to represent them.

    Tayler Staneff

  2. Alice Stephenson says:

    I’m thankful that 18 year old Anna Smith is doing well recovering from a double lung transplant this year. I’m thankful for her donor & ask all to please pray for a full recovery of Anna Smith “and” for the family of the donor for their loss & w/humble thanks to their loved one’s ultimate gift to Anna Smith that’s her saving grace.

    I haven’t seen Anna since she was four and asked me to make her chicken & dumplins w/green peas as a side dish. I remember Anna’s mother having to pat Anna’s back to loosen mucous from cystic fibrosis.

    Over the years I’ve held Anna and her mom and family in my prayers & was sadden to learn in past year that Anna needed a lung transplant so I wrote to THE DOCTORS in Anna’s behalf for their show on Cystic Fibrosis. Then, amazing grace, in the past month Anna was able to receive a double lung transplant. The doctor said he’d never seen lungs in as bad of shape as Anna’s which breaks my heart that she’s had to go through so much.

    However, now is a time for healing and a full recovery for a precious and beautiful young lady who’s dream is to graduate from Texas A&M like her mother and grandfather did. So far so good in less than a month since Anna’s double lung transplant. So all with a spare prayer please share for a full recovery & abundant blessings for Anna. Thank you.

    God Bless Dr. Phil and us all… Amen and Amen

  3. Lori says:


    So what you are saying is because you do not believe in eating meat then neither should Dr. Phil or the rest of the world. To each his or her own. You should not judge someone on what they believe in. I am an animal lover. I have a dog that I treat like a child, but I still love my Turkey!

    Dr Phil & Family,

    Happy Thanksgiving

  4. Blgspc says:

    Now, that is miserable! I ONLY got COCKY over a burial plot when I was younger and a local perpetual care cemetery would call me (after I had worked ALL night) and WAKE ME UP, to say that they were ‘offering’ a single plot and MY name was chosen!!! The whole thing was a ‘Buy One Get One Free’ deal. At the time, I had a problem with ANYONE INVITING ME TO JOIN THEM FOREVER AT THE LOCAL GRAVEYARD!!! I had, on FOUR separate occasions ASKED THEM NICELY to just leave my name off of the ‘Please-Come-With-Us-To-The-BURY-PATCH’ List, BUT NO! They just kept on calling! So, one day, after they woke me, I exuded faux patience as they boasted about the beauty, calm and tranquility of their GRAVEYARD- as if beauty and tranquility would be considerations for me WHEN I’M RESTING UNDER SIX FEET OF SOIL! Anyway, they continued asking me none-of-their-business-questions about my life, income and family who might need a place of ‘interment’. They asked me about ‘dependents’ and that’s when I explained that I did have one dependent, “My dear, sweet little Ashley.” They went on to say that very few people think about placement for a child and that even as an adult that ‘person’ may not have the means later on to cover their own burial. That’s when I said, “Oh, Ashley’s NOT a person. She is my beloved black cat and you’re right…I don’t have a place for her when she….well….goes.” Suddenly, the man on the phone was stuttering saying, “Oh, NO…I’m sorry but…we don’t handle animals, Ma’am…”
    I countered with, “It’s because I told you she was BLACK isn’t IT?!? You KNOW, you can get into a whole bunch of trouble with that kind of discrimination, MISTER!” I didn’t EVEN get another sentence out of my mouth before that man abruptly hung upon me! AND, THEY DIDN‘T EVER CALL ME AGAIN, EITHER!


    Yep! Today Is The Day to think about the things we are grateful for! For ME, since I was solely responsible for the ENTIRE Thanksgiving meal for my parent and myself and my Dad is 81, now and he deserves ONLY the BEST! I AM SO Grateful for the Extras that allow me to use shortcuts on a meal this size, in the South! I am also Grateful for the fact that I am LOVED by SO many around me whether I deserve it or not. My List is lengthy because I have been SO abundantly blessed by God, who I am MOST grateful to for this life experience!


  5. Emily says:

    I love what you do. Thanks and if I could be a part of it to become a better person for myself, I would definitely do so.

  6. Dr. Phil and his Family

    I just love to watch your Show Dr. Phil and I when you was doing the Dr. Phil Family show with Erin and her family I watched that very faithfully.

    Thanks for everything that you do on your show and also all of the help that you have given to people through your Show.

    Have a Happy Thanksgiving and enjoy your relaxing day with your Granddaughter and the rest of your family.

    God Bless you Dr. Phil

  7. sheldon says:

    I am thankful for my family and smart people like Dr Phil that keep this world in check.

  8. Sheila Pate says:

    I am thankful most of all for God and that He has saved me. I am thankful for my family and friends and all the things that God blesses me with.

  9. Margaret Ann says:

    When are you going to post some pix of Avery’s first Thanksgiving? What a wonderful gift to boast about this year!

    Sadly, we had some drama at my in-laws when my mother in law handed her son and daughter each a huge check to buy a flat screen TV (which she’d threatened to do for her son my husband, last Christmas). The kids started arguing at her “Ma! This is crazy! I won’t take it!” and she’s yelling back, “Just take it! Just say thank you! I want you to have it!”

    Man. How grateful I am that this is the kind of arguments at our family dinner! (And how grateful I am that I could turn to her and say “THANK YOU!!” because we are GETTING that flat-screen TV!) It gives her such pleasure to see her kids enjoy her money now, not when she’s dead. Anyway, I talked sense into my husband. And the sweetness of these relationship is far greater than anything that could be put into a box at Best Buy.

  10. jennifer says:

    Thanks Dr.Phil for all you do. :-) I can honestly say that this thanksgiving there were no fights, arguments or whatever. I’m thankfull for that. I’m thankfull for my god & my family.This year I was more worried about my food intake than I was about anything else. In 40 weeks now I’ve lost 139 1/2 lbs & I don’t want to ruin it. I don’t ever want to go back to the 380 lbs I once was. I’m thankfull for being able to move the way I need to move now. I went from my husband having to get me out of bed everyday to I recently painted my sons room by myself. I truly have alot to be thankfull for. :-) god bless.

  11. Slazar says:

    Hi Dr Phil……..head low and mouth full……….best advice I have heard in a while!
    in my attempt to stay drama free……..may yours and Robin’s 1st Thanksgiving as grandparents fill you with a new wonderful joy. we welcomed our 4th grandchild a month before you welcomed Avery and I have to say, each one is a great surprize, an incredible blessing and I am so thankful all 4 of mine are healthy and happy………..and of course….beautiful! have a wonderful day with your beautiful family………..and us…………your extended family who are so very thankful everyday that you and your wisdom, compassion and humor have come our way!

  12. Dr. Phil, Hope you had a great Thanksgiving. I love your show. All the best to you and you’re family. Peggy. Please post pics of you’re beautiful Grandaughter, and you’re family.

  13. FosterBoys says:

    Happy Thanksgiving.
    Great Blog. You’re a very good writer, Dr. Phil.

  14. Joyce Aldridge says:

    When I was born my mother passed away from giving birth to me, not long after I lost my father to a demented stepmother. As I watch and hear people that are lucky to have parents and family but always complain about them ,it makes me sad how so many people take the family they have been given in their lives , for granted, all most as if their life will never come to a end! All the dumb stuff that people get mad at their parents ,siblings and inlaws for and the shows I see on Dr phil with spoiled kids who come from well to do homes ,people fighting all the time, pointing the fingers at others as if they themselves are perfect and can do no wrong. I say let me come on the Dr. Phil show and tell people my story and what its like to never know the love of a mother because her life was lost giving birth to me. What it is like to live in fear my whole childhood ,because of the woman my father married after my mother passed was an abusive psychopath, that beat me and my siblings, threw us down stairs by our hair, kicked us in our stomachs till we could not cry anymore,told us we were little heithans , smacked us in our faces on a daily basis, cut our hair off,we were molested and sodomised by her own biological sons !!! At the age of 12 I tried to kill myself because i could not take the abuse anymore,my father would not protect us he was a passive man. At the tender age of 8 i would come home from school and find notes on my pillow on my bed that read NOW< OR ELSE !! I would have to perform oral sex on my stepmothers son or he threatened me and scared me so I had to do it. When I should have been playing with Barbie dolls I was hiding in my closet from fear of this woman and her sons and It broke me down!! So for all the people that go on Dr phil who think their lives are so bad and complain about their lives and families, I say WAKE UP AND SMELL THE ROSES !!!!!

  15. Brenda says:

    I am so thankful for my daughter Amber and for her giving me 5 beautiful granddaughters. I’m thankful to my daughter Stacy was recently bringing into the world my 6th precious granddaughter on Nov. 10, 2010. Thank you God for all of my family and friends!! God bless you and your family Dr. Phil and for all the wonderful work that you do to help all the families in need.

  16. Judy Willis says:

    Yes, there definitely are people who argue over cemetary plots, and who will be buried by ‘mama’!. I used to hear it, when with my then-husband, his family was goofy about this. Even wanting to dig up one family member, they felt shouldn’t be by momma! Now they are ALL deceased, so that conversation stopped. Even my then-husband is gone.

    Dr. Phil, when will be you be broadcast in HOuston again? I have never gotten the answer to why you were suddenly missing from my day. I love you, your family, and your program. I learned so much . . . even my dog knew when your showing was nearly over, and she got so excited. Why? Because it was her dinner time. lol

    Is there any other way I can view your program? I do not have cable at home.


  17. Lori says:


    I am so sorry that you were put through that as a child. And to have never known a mom must have been awful.
    I had a similar upbringing but I had both of my parents with me. It was them!! I don’t remember much of the first 10 years of my life but some memories have slipped back in over my 49 years. I am glad for the loss of memory. My parents are now both passed on, Dad at the age of 48 in 1977 and my mom in April of 2009. I have forgiven them for what had happened to me as a child but has cause me not to let people to close to me so now… I have no friends, I keep my kids and family at a distance and for this I miss out on the grandchildren growing up and all of the good things in life. My husband will pass before me (I know this) and then I will be all alone… My parents chose my path in life but I failed to fix my future to be happy.

  18. Joyce Aldridge says:

    This is a comment about the earlier post i left. I have found that even though i suffered a traumatizing childhood I am so thankful to be alive and I have found by helping and loving others makes me appreciate what my life here is about. I believe we are here to serve others and you will find by doing so it is the most rewarding thing that life has to offer !!! My stepmother might have broke my mind but she did not break my spirit !!!! Amen .

  19. Kristin says:

    Hi, I need help. Help disappearing! I know there are ways but I dotn have connections. I have custudy of my kids and it would be best if we can just go. Bakersfield California or Manawkin New Jersey. Jersey is where my family is and California is where a close friend of mine lives. I would like to go to either. Here is my story.

    My name is Kristin and I am 28 with 2 awesome kids. I was living in Chicago and had no choice to move back to my abuser. He beats me! He has choked me to the point that I blacked out when I woke up he was standing above me, grabbed my arm and dragged me downstairs and outside. There was a whole that he dug and told me, “See I could got ried of you that quick. Nobody would have ever known.” The scary part is my family doesnt call me, live near me, and I dont have any friends. I am not aloud outside. I have called the police and when he is let go and can come back into the house the beatings are worse. So, I gave up on the police. I have called shelters and they told me that there are no beds, gave me number to people that cant help. I am a divorced woman, with 2 children, a stay at home mom, no car, no money, no help. My ex is my abuser and if I am in this state he can get me. He has hurt me more then I can handle. I am now pregnat because I said, ‘NO.’ I was beatin’ and raped over and over. I am not asking for help I am BEGGING! My children dont see the abuse, they arent abused, its only me. If it wasnt for my children I would have giving up along time ago but that isnt an opinion. I do have a plan on how I would leave. But like i said I have no money. Can you send help my way?

  20. Joyce says:

    @ Kristin, Hunny I have been where you are. Afraid with no where to go. I was beat so bad I was put in the hospital and had to have surgery because the man I was with hit me so hard in my ear he blew my eardrum wide open. It is 10 years later and i still have nightmares. He used the fear tactics with me to and stalked me when I tried to leave. I had noone or nowhere to go it was horrible. DO you have any agencies for victims of domestic violence in your area ? If not write to Dr Phil and plead with him to help save you and your children. These dum a___men that abuse women need to be put in a room and chained to the wall, and then let some one beatt the anger out of them, so they can get a taste of their own medicine !!!!

  21. Kristin says:

    Joyce~ I have pleaded to DrPHil, his staff, twitter and here. So far I havent gotten anywhere. I have nobody and nothing. I have nobody that will help. I called my mother today after being beat with a whip and she told me “I cant help you, hey how was your thanksgiving Birdy.” She told me her excuse was I would make her loss her Rn licence, she wouldnt get sleep, and there is no room. My mother has a 5 bdroom house with my sister and her 2 girls. My sisters kids can share a room I say. She said they wouldnt be comfortable. But me getting beat is I guess. I have called the police If you have been in this you know the cops make it worse because if we are here and he comes back my life is in trouble. He has dug a whole for me, he has said he is going to kill me. I need DrPhil and his connection to get us out of here.
    thank u so much for listening. Kristin

    PS medicine isnt enough for him.

  22. Bonnie says:

    Have a nice holiday season , God bless! Robin, Dr. Phil and family.


  23. Joyce Long says:

    @Kristen I just saw your post and I have seen you beg for help here and on twitter and I am so sorry for all the hell you are going through… I am begging you to please not give up and to please keep contacting Dr Phil.. Keep telling him your story and dont give up… My heart breaks for all you have been through.. Before I left twitter I did see you on there and I prayed that someone would step in and help you.. I am taking a stand to End the Silence on Domestic Violence and I am writing in to Dr Phil on your behalf.. I dont know your last name or anything but I am sure he can find you through the emails you have sent.. Please dont give up and keep on writing. I am back on twitter as JWL49 and if you need to talk or anything please dont hesitate to contact me… I wish I were closer to you and could help, but I will do what I can by writing on your behalf….

  24. Linda says:

    This is completely out of the topic but I have a question. I am a bit worried of a friend/colleague of mine. I know she had some problems with depressions in the past and this autumn we had a lot of reorganizations at work. I have felt quite stressed by it but I can handle it but my colleague dosn´t seem to be handling it well. She was recently hospitalized with a bleeding ulcer and now she has written on facebook: “The final solution. The more I think about it the more tempting it seems. I am almost afraid of myself. ” This is a 36 year old woman who is a mother of two. We work at this callcenter which (in my opinion) couldn´t care less of their employees. I am not sure what to do. Her friends dosn´t seem to be taking it seriously and I don´t know her so well even though we have been working together on and of for almost 12 years.

  25. aditya says:

    I have been a huge fan and lately being very sick and on medical leave I get to watch you everyday. Today’s show was one of the best (teen with a 41 year old guy).
    I have been in a similar situation and I have driven my child into the arms. though here the person is not anything like this guy but there were other concerns and expectations.
    Exactly same reaction I got, being angry, pulling away, very disrespectable, hurtful. the family has been pulled apart, and I am trying to deal with it and I wish I had your advise.
    I wish all the best for this family.
    If sean was a changed man, why didn’t he re-build the relationship with his children?

  26. Shari says:

    Please don’t say ”overly-sensitive” – that is so heartless!!

    That ”niece” burst into tears so quickly because she has been victimized by her horrible family for decades. That family has bullied the poor thing until she has nothing left when they start in on the public humiliation that is reprehensible, period!

    I hope that fabled ”niece” will tell her family to gth and find *caring* people to spend her Thanksgiving holiday with!

  27. Hope Reid says:

    Dr. Phil’
    PLEASE help Kristin get out of that house before he kills her! I went through a similar situation back in the early ’80’s, but since I had no children at the time, I wasn’t even eligible for help through a domestic violence shelter. Please don’t allow this young mother to become a statistic! I am a devoted viewer of your show. Thanks!

  28. his is a 36 year old woman who is a mother of two. We work at this callcenter which (in my opinion) couldn´t care less of their employees. I am not sure what to do. Her friends dosn´t seem to be taking it seriously and I don´t know her so well even though we have been working together on and of for almost 12 years.

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