Reflect together. Maybe you say grace before dinner and maybe you don’t, but either way, it’s great to include a mini-meditation before your feast. Thanksgiving day itself can be stressful, full of emotional weight (in both good ways and bad), and fast-paced in a way that makes us “Go! Go! Go!” Amid the chaos, we should be taking time to appreciate that the season is less about who has the most beautiful centerpiece or most delicious appetizer and more about whom we’re with and why we’re with them.
Have a moment of silent reflection about the day, the family, the feast. Invite everyone not to totally repress their “mind chatter” but to observe it without judgment and allow their thoughts to pass freely and then let them go. Be relaxed and be present!
Include a sport or group activity on Thanksgiving Day. Many of us associate Thanksgiving with football. It’s fun to watch, but it’s even more fun to play! Some of the most iconic moments from our favorite TV families come from them tossing a football around in the backyard. Getting active together can get every member of the family connected and having fun before your meal. It’s easier to catch up and chat when you’re actually playing a game, as opposed to having everyone’s eyes glued to the TV watching one. And if football’s not your style, maybe your family could participate in your favorite backyard activity or go for a brisk walk or bike ride.
Get the kids involved! Pie tastes better when you’ve earned it, so get the kids moving this Thanksgiving, and set up an exercise contest. All you need is a monitor with a stopwatch (or a smart phone) and eager kids to participate. Contests of “who can hold the longest plank,” “do the most push-ups or sit-ups,” etc. are easy to do. If you set a good prize — whoever wins gets to cut the first piece of pie! — you may just get some couch potatoes doing pushups in no time! And hey, there’s no real reason the adults in the room can’t get in on this competition too!
Start a new thanking tradition. Thank you cards are wonderful things. But on top of the thank you cards, you could make the “thank yous” more genuine and personal when they’re said out loud. The most official “thank you” is delivered with eye contact and, of course, sincerity. But to make this tradition a bit more festive, you could make a “thanking game” before dessert comes out as a sort of bookend to the meal that your mini-meditation began. The best part about this game is that you make the rules! For example, you could put all the place cards in a bowl and draw names, each person saying “thank you” to the person they drew. Or you could simply go down the table and thank the person sitting directly across from you for the role they play in your life and all the great contributions they’ve made.