7 Ways to Make Thanksgiving More Meaningful
Imagine the perfect Thanksgiving. Your home festively decorated for fall, the fragrant aroma of allspice, pumpkin and a hint of sage floating almost rhythmically through the air, your friends and family gathered ‘round the table, their faces filled with delightful anticipation, and you, looking into the angelic face of your newborn grandchild, sleeping peacefully in your comforting arms. However you define your perfect holiday, serving up a little meaning with your mashed potatoes will make an otherwise monotonous holiday, more memorable.
If you need a few ideas on how to get started, check out the following 7 ways to celebrate Thanksgiving in a more meaningful fashion:
- Act out a pilgrim play – When I was a young girl, I wrote, directed and starred with my siblings, in my own version of a pilgrim play. We wore pilgrim costumes designed by my mother and performed our masterpiece in my grandmother’s backyard. While it may sound corny to you, it is one of the most memorable Thanksgivings I’ve ever had. Make your Thanksgiving a day to remember by asking the children at your Turkey Day gathering to act out a pilgrim play. Give the play a theme, each child a role to play and 15 minutes to practice. Once they’re ready, grab your camera and turn the kids loose for the performance of a lifetime.
- Help save a turkey – Every year in the United States alone, 250 to 300 million turkeys are bred for slaughter. This year, why not have a compassionate holiday by adopting a turkey instead of eating one. By joining Farm Sanctuary’s Adopt-A-Turkey Project, you can sponsor a turkey for a one-time donation gift of $30. If you’re worried about what you can serve in place of a traditional turkey, Tofu turkeys, or Tofurkeys, are a delicious, vegan or vegetarian alternative.
- Play Thanksgiving bingo – There’s nothing more fun than playing bingo with a group, especially when there’s a holiday theme. Play Thanksgiving bingo with your guests by downloading free, printable Thanksgiving bingo cards. Use spare coins or buttons for markers. Print a pre-printed call list to randomly call out the words used on the bingo cards. The first player to get 5 words in a row in any direction wins a small, but meaningful prize.
- Share your bounty with those less fortunate – Many families with small children aren’t able to afford a traditional Thanksgiving dinner. There are those too, who are homeless, without a family to turn to during the holidays. Instead of storing all your leftovers for another day, find a way to share them with a family less fortunate. Make turkey sandwiches and pass them out to the homeless, along with a tasty piece of pumpkin pie. If sharing food is not an option, donate your time at a homeless shelter serving it, instead.
- Make Turkey Day placemats – Make your holiday table even more festive by creating your own Turkey Day placemats. Write a story about Thanksgiving, leaving certain words blank; then ask your guests to fill in the blanks. Print your template out on placemats and ask each guest to read their version of the story. Not feeling very creative? No problem. Print pre-designed Thanksgiving placemat templates from your own computer.
- Speak your gratitude with a poem – Most of us have been to a Thanksgiving dinner where guests are asked to share something they’re thankful for. This year, take gratitude to a new level by asking your guests to write, and read, a short gratitude poem. Poems can be funny, heartfelt or tell a story, but should use gratitude as a central theme.
- Make a gratitude video – If you’re not the shy type, create a gratitude video that you can share with your guests. Include something special about each guest and what it is about them that makes you most grateful. Don’t forget to pass out tissue, because there won’t be a dry eye in the house.
However you choose to spend your Thanksgiving, surrounding yourself with your favorite food, friends and family is part of what makes Thanksgiving a favorite holiday for many of us. So count your blessings, wear loose clothing and most of all, remember why you’re celebrating. Happy Thanksgiving to all!
Author: Deborah Leader RN, BSN, PHN