By Kelsey Kushner

BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Thanksgiving can be stressful under normal circumstances, but it may be more so this year.

After months of social distancing, bigger in-person gatherings are back this year!

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“Going to eat a lot of turkey, cranberry sauce, and spend a lot of good time with family,” said Andrew Crowley. Hoping for the best. We missed Thanksgiving last year so going for it this year.”

But with the holiday, comes a good amount of stress.

“The pandemic and the family, a combination of both,” said Pat Gregory.

Like spending time with difficult family members or serving up the right food.

“Getting it done on time because I’m the cook,”  Gregory added.

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A recent poll shows about two-thirds of people are planning to get together with friends or family outside their households this Thanksgiving.

Psychologist Lisa Damour says if you’re feeling anxious about it, start by lowering your expectations.

“I think people sometimes think it’s the holidays. It should be fun, it should be wonderful. But if the people who are with you are not your first choice, it’s probably better to separate the idea of the holidays from the idea of having a good time, said Damour.

She says if someone brings up a controversial topic, make a plan to excuse yourself or change the subject.

“If you are worried about tension over the holidays, you have a home you have food you have company, tune into that if we focus on that we get our perspective back and it makes it easier to bear the hard parts,” Damour added.

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Damour says if you’re worried about spreading COVID, you can always have appetizers outside. Also, skip the buffets and family-style dinner. Instead, have one person prepare everyone’s plate.

Kelsey Kushner