Thanks·giv·ing: an expression of gratitude.
The practice of verbal gratitude has benefits year round, but today, for the national holiday dedicated to giving thanks, we recognize as a group all that we have in our lives to be grateful for. And yet sometimes the meal that brings us together with those we are grateful for can be a little tense. Is it irony or is it exactly what we need to learn the true art of being grateful?
This year, instead of grinding your teeth and saying your thanks for when the required time to spend together is over, we have a few ideas of how you can create a meaningful thanksgiving gathering for all, including that non-p.c. family member who seems to always insult at least one person at the table!
Here are 5 tips on how to add extra kindness to your thanksgiving gathering:
1. Give your guests a positive boost
Before your guests arrive write everyone’s name on the blank side of an index card and place the card into an unmarked envelope. As your guests arrive hand them each an envelope and ask them to write one thing they admire about the person they find written on the card and place the filled out index card next to the person’s place at the table. You can keep this anonymous or not, read the cards at the beginning of the meal or let everyone enjoy their positive boost in silence. Either way this is sure to set a great tone to the start of your thanksgiving meal.
2. Get the little ones involved
One of the most joyful and hardest parts of these large get-togethers can be the stress of what to do with the kids. Instead of trying to distract them so the adults can get the room tidy/table set/salad prepped… try to involve them in the process. Whether it’s remedial chores like asking your 5 year old to go to all the rooms and check that dirty laundry and/or shoes aren’t lying on the floor, or made up chores (“Hi, little two year old, can you mix this bowl of dry beans for me?”) getting children involved young will set a standard for the future and will help them feel excited about the festivities. Be sure to thank them as they go… a little encouragement goes a long way!
3. Check the cell phones at the door.
Choose an hour or two of your time together with friends and family to put the cell phones aside and focus on being together. Calls, emails and notifications can wait while attention is paid to those in your immediate surroundings. You may find this so enjoyable that you make it a regular habit!
4. Listen to another perspective
It’s inevitable that when a group of people come together there will be opposing views represented at the table. This can be one of the most tense parts of the get together, especially if religion or politics come up (which is likely). If two or more people start getting into it, whatever “it” may be, ask them to take a time out and listen to the other person’s perspective and then share with the table what they heard. Not what they think… what they heard. Then do the same practice the other way around. When we know we are heard, even if not agreed with, we feel seen which can help change the tone of the conversation completely!
5. Share your bounty
The gift of giving can do wonders not only to those you give to but to the mood of your day. Whether you decide to give a food donation to a local center or volunteer to spend part of Thanksgiving day serving food to those in need, this act of kindness will benefit everyone, including yourself. It also sets a tone of gratitude for the bounty you have before you when you sit down to your own Thanksgiving meal.
Try one (or all) of these tips to make your thanksgiving meal a bit more enjoyable and meaningful this year. Who knows… you might find you love it so much you’ll start looking forward to the next shared holiday gathering!