My family and I have a Thanksgiving tradition. Everybody around the table takes a turn answering a question:
“What am I grateful for? And why?”
The “why”—as always—is so important. When you address that part of the question, you put your whole self into the answer. For example, if someone starts with, “I’m grateful for this food”, then the next part might be: “…because it’s given us a reason to sit here together and talk. This meal is a venue for expressing our love for one another.”
The meaning of Thanksgiving is pretty straightforward, right? It’s about gratitude. But why am I thankful for an opportunity to be grateful?
Because gratitude creates a powerful flow of positivity, making the world a more peaceful, joyful, and loving place. I love Thanksgiving, because it’s one time of the year when I can definitely feel that intense current of goodness that, if recognized, has the potential to transform our attitudes, our self-concept, and our relationships.
With all of my Thanksgiving traditions, I try to remember that creating a positive flow is the name of the game. Since I started thinking about the holiday this way, it’s made long-held traditions more meaningful, and inspired new traditions.
One long-held tradition is the Thanksgiving table setting. I love tables that are set with care and decorated with flair. My Thanksgiving table setting always calls for branches, leaves, and pumpkins—real ones as well as the glass, wood, and metal ones I always have around. (Yup, I love pumpkins.) When the table is touched by nature and overflowing with culinary abundance, it’s easy to feel grateful. It’s almost impossible not to.
Another classic Thanksgiving tradition is the menu. We keep it quite traditional: turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, Brussels sprouts (try them roasted with olive oil), and carrots and turnips mashed together (Russ’ favourite). And yes…there is pie. Slightly spicy pumpkin and juicy-sweet apple, served with both whipping cream and ice cream. And…yes…of course there is wine! Full bodied white and medium bodied red, usually.
But here’s a newer tradition that has definitely helped express the meaning of Thanksgiving for me: collaboration. I used to do everything, and believed that was my job, but now everybody helps. Everybody makes a dish and helps clean up. In fact, when people come in the door, they draw a number. Even numbers clear the table and put away leftovers, while odd numbers wash and dry dishes. Teamwork is definitely one of my favourite Thanksgiving traditions.
From the Thanksgiving table setting, to the sight of all family members working together, this holiday is filled with so many opportunities to be grateful. But despite all the deliciousness and togetherness that’s almost inevitable, it is possible to lose the meaning of Thanksgiving through busy-ness. Don’t let that happen. Do everything with intention and remember that you’re creating a flow of positivity that truly matters.