Thanksgiving Rituals

Consider these ideas to enhance your holiday experience

Holidays are tricky. Not everyone has that wonderful family gathering we’re shown on tv and in the movies. If you’re lucky enough to share the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday with a group of family and friends I have a few suggestions for you. It is called, after all, Thanksgiving, so it is an opportunity to help children learn about gratitude. And we all need reminders now and then.

This is the kickoff of a celebratory season which might include Hanukkah, Winter Solstice and most often Christmas. With so much emphasis on consumerism, this could be the perfect time to take a breath, slow down, and dig deep.

Science even shows that feeling grateful promotes healthy and happier people. 

Decorate the table or placemats!

Here are a few ways to include gratitude in your Thanksgiving celebration.

One of the easiest and obvious is having everyone talk about what they feel grateful for in their lives. Start the meal going around the table giving each person a turn to speak.  Need I add – without interruption?

Have everyone say something nice about the person sitting to their left (or right, or whatever, just make sure everyone is recognized).

Lead up to Thanksgiving Day by having everyone think of something they are grateful for throughout the week, jotting it down, and reading it at the dinner celebration.

Remember to thank others… focus the week on extra nice comments showing appreciation for anyone in your life, people at check-out counters, wait staff and those closer to you as well. Talk about how that worked out for you at dinner. For children – help them write thank you letters to people in their world such as local fire companies, deployed military, the ‘lunch lady,’ the janitor, a special teacher  or crossing-guard, I’m sure can come up with something together.It’s a good habit to cultivate!

Continuing to involve children, make sure they have a role in the meal. Have them serve dessert for example. Kids benefit from helping.

Service! Volunteer time and especially find out what local programs actually need and create a project to fulfill that need, such as collecting winter coats,  pet food for animal shelter, or gift cards for the domestic violence shelter. Volunteer to help serve meals to those in need.

Service to others helps those who serve.

Create a special holiday tablecloth by using permanent marks and have everyone write messages of thanks on the cloth. Use this every year, adding more and more positive messages. It will be fun to see the development over the years. Or create placements.

Every celebration deserves a toast.
(Rhinehart Photography)

Invite someone new to share this day with you. A neighbor, friend or relative who may have no place to go on this holiday will be grateful, and you will be enriched for having done so. Make amends with an estranged family member or friend by inviting them.

And finally, don’t forget a toast. Clink your glasses together in appreciation of the moment.

find me on facebook – Lois Heckman, Celebrant, and Instagram – Lois HeckmanImage

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