Most people in American understand the story of the first Thanksgiving, but as time has gone on, the core message may have been missed. Here are some ways to keep the feeling of Thankfulness alive, while you enjoy a turkey dinner with the family.
1. Give to provide a turkey dinner for those who may not have one. Wherever you live, there are plenty of places to donate money or non-perishable foods to ensure that those in your community enjoy a Thanksgiving dinner with all the trimmings. Not only is this just good human citizenship, but with the economic difficulties our country still is struggling with, it needs to be a ‘must do’ on our list this year.
2. Visit and assist in giving out meals at a local homeless shelter. Even the most cynical person who doesn’t trust where a donation to a large care organization goes will change their minds as they serve up meals to the faces of the less fortunate. As the latest economic struggles have taught us, we are all vulnerable. The faces we see in those lines, could be us. It is a humbling experience, and gives us more reasons to be thankful for what we have and how we can share with those who have much less.
3. Visit a Veteran’s grave. Most families have at least one person who has served our country. Along with being thankful for what we have, we need to show our thankfulness for the sacrifice of others. Perhaps the family hasn’t been to the grave of the family member for quite awhile. This might be a great opportunity to share the experience with your children, and explain what the family member did for our country and our freedom.
4. Try to mend some relationships prior to the Thanksgiving meal. A family is a difficult dynamic sometimes. Miscommunications, hurt and misunderstandings lead to tensions that can make a family get together difficult, at best. If you can, place a call, send a letter or email a month or two before the Thanksgiving meal to try to mend relationships have been strained or broken. Many times, the two parties that are not speaking wish the other would take the first step, and the relationship is never healed. Time can mellow people, and what was said years ago in anger has changed. Be prepared for people to rehash the old issues and feelings over the years, and things may stay strained. Know that you made the effort, and that’s what is important.
5. Share some Thankfulness to the Fire Department. Pick up a package of hot cocoa, and drop it off at a local Fire Department to say thank you. Economic and budget cutbacks mean that they work harder with less people, etc. Show them you care.
6. Digitally record family story time. Instead of racing to the TV, Computer or the Video game system, record Grandma and Grandpas family stories. You never know when our patriarchs and matriarchs will pass away, and do your best to capture all the memories you can on video, photo or buy an digital audio recorder and burn cds for the family. If you decide to, you can post some of the stories that might be interesting to others (War stories, etc) on the Internet.
7. Give Mom a break. You may want to bypass the stress of preparing the meal and just go out. Tell Mom (or Grandma, etc) how much you appreciate her by letting others cook for her.
8. Take a Thankfulness Break at the Meal. Whether you say grace at your Thanksgiving table or not, take a minute and let everyone share what they are Thankful for. This can be a great way to capture the feeling of being thankful. Life is difficult many times, and we forget that life is difficult for others, too. Let the share, and see what gems of thankfulness they share.
9. Make a List for Yourself. Life isn’t just about the stuff or money we get or make, but what we appreciate and cherish on this journey. Write down what you are thankful for. Life is hard many times, but the things we are thankful for are the hilltops we enjoy after a valley of difficulty. Hold onto what’s important.
10. Send a Thankful Note. Has there ever been anyone in your life that helped you, gotten you through a rough time, taught you something important, etc? People come into our life for a moment to help us, we need to let them know how much we appreciate what they did for you. Take a moment and drop them a letter, email, Social Networking message, etc. They made an impression on your life, you can return the favor.