Thanksgiving is one of those holidays that has a mythical and debatable origin. Not all Americans view Thanksgiving as a joyous, warm and loving holiday to be spent with family. The Pilgrims, Puritans, and Separatists were not all here for religious freedom, though if memory serves, that is what I learned in school. We actually have a bloody history with different European peoples killing each other on American soil before they finally turned their eye towards native peoples and began war after war that included genocide and land stealing.
Here we are hundreds of years later with cartoon turkeys, black Friday, family squabbling all centered around a gluttonous meal. I know numerous people that dread extended family gatherings because of political arguments, family gossiping, disapproval of lifestyle, appearance, religion, choice in partner or because they orchestrate a giant meal with little help or thanks.
How can we make the most of this day? I have some suggestions for things I’m going to try this year.
1. Set your intentions right after waking. Think about how you want the day to go and how you want to receive any unpleasantness. Write down three things you’re grateful for having in my life.
2. Make sure you exercise. I’m exercising myself and my dog. I’ll be calmer and so will he.
3. Be direct and honest. If the conversation turns toward a topic sure to bring on an argument, try to steer it by being blatant: I don’t think discussing Obama’s Health Care Plan is a very good idea. Let’s just stick to topics that won’t start a big fight. I’ve tried this tactic and it actually works. There are usually a few last second comments thrown in; but, it settles it down because it is not an unreasonable request.
4. Help the host. Sometimes help is setting the table or cleaning up afterward and sometimes help is keeping Uncle Joe from eating all the stuffing before it’s even served or keeping Cousin Fred out of the kitchen where he is an annoying know-it-all.
4. Steal Thanksgiving back from the history books that perpetuate a myth and from the advertisers who see it as the start of a consumer binge. Create new rituals that give thanks and forgiveness to those you love.
5. End your day with a stroll or some indoor quiet time and reflect on the day. Write down 3 more things you’re grateful for.
If you celebrate Thanksgiving, enjoy it. I am spending it with family and expect to have a lovely time and if I’m lucky, I’ll get to see the herd of wild turkeys that passes through my parent’s property in the late afternoons. I love those turkeys. There are sometimes up to 17 of them and they are scruffy and wild and noisy, nothing like our Thanksgiving turkeys. I love watching them.