Thanksgiving – a day of giving thanks for the harvest. Pilgrims and Puritans who emigrated from England carried the tradition of Days of Fasting and Days of Thanksgiving with them to New England. And here we are, ready to give thanks for another plentiful year.
Whether or not you appreciate the global scale of harvest celebrations doesn’t make much of a difference. Heck, whether your celebration has any ties to the harvest whatsoever might not matter a great deal.
And yet, here were are wishing one another a happy holiday without understanding what that means to either them or us. So how do we have happier Thanksgivings?
Define your celebration’s purpose. Yes, we all understand what Thanksgiving is supposed to be about and that’s a decent starting point. But it’s only a starting point. Ask yourself some deeper questions as you truly define the purpose of your Thanksgiving celebration.
What is the desired outcome from the celebration? Is it to deepen family connections? To honor family traditions and share them with the next generation? To celebrate the good in your life?
I doubt any Thanksgiving celebration is merely about eating turkey. Take the time to uncover the true intent of your celebration.
Celebrate your way. Once you’ve defined and shared the purpose of the celebration, pick and choose traditions that enable you to carry out that purpose. Not every tradition is for everyone. The point of the first Thanksgiving was to celebrate the abundant harvest by breaking bread together. We tend to “honor” this tradition with a turkey, but that doesn’t mean it’s the only way to honor it.
If you don’t like turkey, change it up. Seriously. Make traditions your own. Make them serve the purpose you’ve defined.
Be grateful. Thanksgiving is, as the name suggests, all about giving thanks. For the bounty. For family. For community. For food. For weather. For success. For happiness. Take the time to actually do that – give thanks. Incorporate it into your celebration somehow. It can be as simple as welcoming those with grateful hearts to break bread with you.
Help your guests celebrate. A lot of gatherings and celebrations lack a defined purpose. Lucky for you, you’ve already taken the time to figure out the purpose of your Thanksgiving celebration. Now you need to show guests how to confidently live up to that intent. Provide context. Lead them through your traditions. Share the story of your celebration.
And lastly, focus on happy. Gratitude is a pillar of happiness, so the more thanks, the more happy.
Gobble, gobble y’all.