For many individuals and families, Thanksgiving Day is a time to get together as a family to enjoy one another’s company. But for many, Thanksgiving Day brings feelings of anxiety, frustration and conflict. Others, who do not have nearby or supportive families, may find themselves alone on Thanksgiving Day.
But Thanksgiving Day can be special, a day of gratitude and joy with a bit of consideration, planning and preparation. How we celebrate Thanksgiving Day is a choice. We choose not only how we celebrate, but also with whom.
Even for those who spend Thanksgiving Day with family, family tensions can turn what should be a special time of fellowship into one of frustration and conflict. We can choose not to spend Thanksgiving Day with a family in conflict or we can decide not to add to family tension with our words and actions. We can encourage gratitude by counting our blessings and to be the one to build up rather than tear down. Preparation means preparing our hearts and minds to make Thanksgiving Day special.
What if that dish on which we spent so much time doesn’t turn out? What if our family isn’t as enthusiastic as we’d like? We can choose to let circumstances steal our joy of the holiday or we can focus on our gratitude for the blessings we do have. Attitude makes the difference in having a good and special Thanksgiving Day.
Expecting to be alone for Thanksgiving Day? That, too, is a choice. We can wallow all alone or we can choose not to be alone. We may not have family with whom to celebrate, but we do not need to be alone.
There are organizations and churches who offer a Thanksgiving Day meal for those who don’t have family. Even better, why not offer to help out and serve others on Thanksgiving Day, finding an attitude of gratitude in reaching out to others. Spending Thanksgiving Day with others will make the holiday special as joy comes from serving others.
Preparation means we don’t have to be alone. We can ask another friend or couple who would also be alone on Thanksgiving Day to share the day. Has someone lost a loved one? With a bit of preparation we can give them a Thanksgiving Day to remember. Not a cook? We can make the Thanksgiving Day meal potluck. Let everyone bring his or her favorite main dish, vegetable and/or desert. Thanksgiving Day may not be the usual turkey and mashed potatoes, but it will be special because we’ll be celebrating the holiday together. Or, if money isn’t a issue, meet with other friends at a local restaurant. Many restaurants have Thanksgiving Day specials.
Can’t get together on Thanksgiving Day? Figure out a time, maybe the weekend before or after, Thanksgiving to celebrate together. The key is celebrating a day of gratitude together.
Thanksgiving Day for us has changed over the years. As a child, my family often traveled to spend the day with Grandma Salstrand and Aunt Esther. When my dad took a church far from Mom’s mother and sister, we often met with other pastors’ families and made a whole weekend out of Thanksgiving Day. Of course, traveling away from home took time, planning and preparation, but it was well worth it when the day after Thanksgiving Day, Mom took us girls Christmas shopping.
Much later, once my husband’s brothers and sister grew up, moved away and started their own families, getting together got to be a logistical nightmare. My husband’s mother decided that the weekend after Thanksgiving Day would be family time. It is a set time and we have all year to make preparation to have time off. Maybe it isn’t technically the Thanksgiving Day holiday, but it has come to be a special family time to be together and a time of gratitude in which to share our blessings.
As long as our own children were at home, we always had one another on Thanksgiving Day. Sometimes we shared Thanksgiving Day with family, sometimes not. Now that our children are grown and away from home, my husband and I sometimes find ourselves alone on Thanksgiving Day. That is all right too, because Thanksgiving Day isn’t just about a large gathering of people, not about food. Thanksgiving Day is about counting our blessings and of gratitude.
Want to make Thanksgiving Day special? Take time for planning and preparation. Preparation means starting with an attitude of gratitude and with that attitude reaching out to others.