Without a doubt Thanksgiving is a day that ought to be filled with hope, gratitude, and happiness. It is a time of togetherness and for appreciation of our family and friends. It is a day to be celebrated in joy and liveliness.
Although this day is great on its own, it is possible to enhance the day for your family. There are many things that can make your Thanksgiving holiday exceptional. Your kids watch and notice much of what you do. How you talk about your family, the attitude you have about this special day and life in general is all being recorded by your kids.
As such this article is intended for parents to examine how they are currently celebrating the day and to find tips that can enhance this experience with their family.
Here are a few ideas to get you started:
Begin with a thankful mindset: Start the day off with a happy and thankful attitude. You can ask all family members to write down one positive thing about each of the other family members they are grateful for. Decide to read these notes out loud when you are together at the dinner.
Cook together & eat together: Cooking and eating are important for human bonding. Sharing a meal with others is what makes the food even more enjoyable. This is an opportunity to share your daily experiences (the good and the bad) with those you love and those who love you the most. Thanksgiving Day, however, is a good time to share your gratitude with each other. When we share positive ideas with people we grow closer to them. Remember that food is more than just nutrition for the body and brain. It is nutrition for the mind and soul.
Celebrate the gift of life: Thanksgiving is the time to celebrate life, not only by saying “Thank You” but also by stepping out of the home to experience something fun (e.g., family sport game, hike, photography, picking wild flowers, appreciation of nature). Joy and happiness are the best vehicles to gratitude and a zest for life.
Build family connections: As adults, people recall many memories from their childhood years formed during family events. Many adults have great memories of “crazy Uncle George” or “eccentric Aunt Martha” which they speak about with their siblings and cousins. This is a good time to put aside any family disputes. Model good family relations to your children so they can grow up and value the relationships they have with their siblings and extended family.
Be thankful for your family: Much information exists on “How to survive the holidays with your family.” Nobody’s family is perfect and most of us have a family member that is difficult to get along with. Use Thanksgiving Day to remember all the positives about everyone and to recall all the positives they have done for you. Find a subtle way to tell everyone what you appreciate about this family member and watch his or her attitude change that night. This is a great opportunity to show your kids how family can connect.
Volunteer: Give some of your family’s time to a shelter or food bank. This is good for the kids and it is good for you. You will come home with a feeling of contribution, a greater gratitude for what you have, and with feelings of humility. This helps keep us all grounded, but it helps kids form a positive attitude about the life they were given, and it can show kids how their actions can make a difference in their community.
New and old tradition: Sometimes it’s just easier not to cook the traditional favourites or put up the decorations. But believe it or not, these little, seemingly unimportant traditions are what we crave and what we remember from our youth. Celebrate your yearly traditions and think about developing a new tradition that incorporates the uniqueness of your family! As a family unit, what is your strength and what are your interests (e.g., using arts and crafts, visually represent what each of you is thankful for)? Use your family’s uniqueness to establish a new yearly ritual.
Happy and Safe Thanksgiving to your family!
Ivana Pejakovic, Life Coach in Toronto