Been a minute. Based on recent events, I figure that this Thanksgiving might be the most difficult, since, like, the first one. There is plenty of anger and frustration to go around, and plenty of time to process it all.
Under the best of circumstances, Thanksgiving is a stereotypically difficult holiday, where various young people are summoned back from where It Gets Better to Small Town USA, where a nervous matriarch sets ground rules in hopes of keeping her kids from butting heads w/ Racist Uncle™, and leaving the meal in tears. The stakes on all of that are higher than they have been for some time.
If you are hosting, especially if you are hosting for the first time, you are facing a task that is one of those things the young people call "adulting." Even if you are an adult, it's a lot of work, and a lot of planning. Sam Sifton can help. This book demystifies and codifies a challenging task. I wish he would write a book for other Big Adult Tasks, like buying a house, or planning a parent's funeral. For now, there is this book, which will help.
The other piece of advice, for hosts and for guests, is to hold space at your table for people who need it. The cinetrix and I have been known to have a Friday Friendsgiving, and offer a place for folks for whom Thursday was an ordeal. There are other ways to do this, too -- serve at a homeless shelter, donate money to a food pantry, invite people from far away to join you, etc.
I bought chestnuts yesterday, and and plan to peel them while I watch football this evening. How are you getting ready?