Some experience Thanksgiving as a long weekend in late November. Others see it as the kickoff to the Christmas shopping season. Others feast in a four-day fest of dozens of kickoffs and hours of watching football. Others enjoy a feast of succulent food. Others travel to see family. Others like getting a few things done around the house.
I love Thanksgiving. Always have. Hopefully always will. It is a stand-alone holiday that has the potential to set the table for the upcoming Christmas and New Year.
Here are eight ideas on how to have a better Thanksgiving.
- Make a list.
Get out a clean sheet of paper. A new notebook. Some app on your phone. A white board. A Word document. And start writing or start typing. Create a huge list of people and things and places you are grateful for. Be thorough. Have fun. Keep the list in front of you until the beginning of the year. Review and add to the list often.
- Pray before the meal.
Ask somebody, in advance, if they will pray before the meal. Have them put some effort into it. Thank God for some recent blessings. Big things and little things. Invite all present to have a moment of silence to practice gratitude. Make it a long moment! Or you could pray The Prayer of Thanksgiving from Prayers from The Water’s Edge.
- Put people on the spot.
During the Thanksgiving meal, have a guided conversation. Pick a person to just sit there and listen. Have all those gathered share some things they are grateful for about the person who is listening. Continue until everybody has heard people be grateful for them. Affirming and being affirmed is a sacred experience.
- Invite somebody to do something.
Invite a person or a couple who has family out of town to share the Thanksgiving meal with you. Invite a buddy you haven’t seen for a while to go to the sports bar and watch the game. Invite a friend to go see a movie. Focus on building and strengthening relationships.
- Give somebody a reason to be really thankful.
Serve a stranger. Give something to somebody. Say something encouraging to whoever. Let another driver cut in front of you. Be really kind.
- Send thank you notes.
Buy a few cards or a box of cards. Write a few people or a bunch of people an old-school thank you note. Thank them. Be specific. Be general. Mail the notes and make somebody’s day.
- Put the cell phones in a box at designated times.
Thanksgiving provides space to spend time with people. Take advantage of this opportunity and disconnect from the world for a while and encourage others to do the same. Put down your phones and be present. Play a game. Go for a walk. Go have coffee. The connected world will be fine without you.
The meal doesn’t have to be huge. The decorations don’t have to be perfect. The house doesn’t have to be spotless. The leaves don’t need to be raked. Simplify. Less stress and disappointment. More gratitude and joy.
I hope you have a great Thanksgiving!