In two weeks Thanksgiving will be upon us and with it the first of the Big Time Holidays this
season. Although the meal and the family are supposed to be central to this celebration, not
everyone has a family with whom to celebrate or a meal on which to feast. This renders the holiday sad and difficult to stomach for some. Others have an abundance of family and food to organize over the long weekend and look for a release from the closeness that can lead to resentments flaring up. Whether either of these scenarios is akin to yours or you fall somewhere in between, these ideas are meant to help you through and, believe it or not, enhance your Thanksgiving celebrations.
Have a plan. It may sound too simple or silly, but organizing your time throughout the holiday itself, and, if necessary, the entire long weekend, is vital to keeping your sanity. Even in the best of situations displaced people can become bored, anxious, and annoying if not provided ample stimulation. Find a movie to watch, start your Christmas/Chanukah shopping, go to a local concert, go bowling, or take a hike! Having things to do that do not revolve around food is a brilliant way to keep body and mind moving without gaining the notorious weight the holidays can pile on. In addition, getting away from hearth and home provides space from the bulk of the family and new information to talk about besides old family garbage that insight fights.
Pitch in. It’s the big day and all you’ve done is watch the big game… and the other big game… and you’re only taking a break before the next big game is on at the top of the hour. Thanksgiving is a time to visit with family, indulge in carbohydrate-rich food, and, for many, watch football. But it really should and could be a time when even the cook has an opportunity to take part in the festivities. I’m not suggesting no football be allowed (although in my house that has been considered) but that everyone in the family take turns pitching in by setting the table, carrying food, clearing the table, or washing dishes. Want to score points and be remembered fondly? Take a quarter off and help Mom/Grandma/Aunt/Dad whoever is doing dishes, dry. Some of the best conversations happen over dishes.
Don’t be alone if you’re alone. So you don’t have family to visit, can’t cook a chicken nugget let alone a turkey, and don’t want to be a third (fifth, fourteenth) wheel at a good meaning friend’s dinner table, that doesn’t mean your holiday is sunk. Spending time alone may be great for some, but for many it is a melancholic time. So, instead of wallowing in self-pity, falling into deep depression, or ignoring the day completely, go where you are needed and most certainly wanted. Volunteer. There are many who need the kindness of others this time of year. By volunteering to make food and/or serve food at areas providing for those in need, you take the focus off of you. When we are presented with those who need us we tend to feel better about ourselves when we pitch in and work together to make people happy.
Play games. Yeah, I know, but seriously, it’s fun! Engaging in enjoyable, non-competitive, goofy games that provide tons of entertainment, uproarious laughter, and silliness is a terrific way to pass some times. Don’t take everything so dang seriously; let your hair down, channel your inner child, and just laugh… often and loudly!
Soak it up. If you are fortunate enough to be around loved ones, try to absorb the best of the holiday. Concentrate on the timbre of your father’s voice, the curve of your mother’s face, the stories of your grandparents, and the size of your children’s hands as they make
turkeys on their sketch pad. Yes, your brother may piss you off again, your sister may belittle you, your mashed potatoes may be tough or lumpy, but the fact that everyone made the effort to gather for this day of thanks is reason enough to be thankful.
Like I ask you all to open your hearts and minds to Simple Joys daily, I urge you to do the same on Thanksgiving. What matters most, wherever you spend the holiday, is remembering to find the Simple Joys of every moment; rise above the petty and focus on the gifts of the season.
I wish you all the best and invite you back here throughout the season for tips, recipes, suggestions, helpful hints, comedic reprieve, and supportive sympathy. Together we can make this the most richly rewarding and pleasant Holiday Season!