Well, I’m out the door like so many others today as I hit the road to spend time with family and friends for the long Thanksgiving holiday. One of the reasons I place Thanksgiving at the top of my favorite holiday list is because of the gratitude driven focus. Free from the requirement of monetary giving expectations, Thanksgiving hones in on some of the most important essentials needed to live a contented life – time with loved ones, experiences rather than gifts, scrumptious comforting food and time carved out especially to just be and relax.
Whether you are hosting Thanksgiving or navigating the traffic to attend the holiday feast, I wanted to share a list of ways I’ve found to help create a very memorable Thanksgiving.
1. Celebrate being free from want
When we enter into any situation with mindset of gratitude, we are more apt to see more to be grateful for. Now this is not to say everything will go perfectly or everyone will behave in a manner that is agreeable, but being present with an attitude of abundance makes it easier to let the “oops” moments go and revel in the good. After all, look at all of the delicious food on the table!
2. Enjoy a traditional feast done well
Risk-taking and experimenting for the purpose of growth and discovery is something I wholeheartedly support, but when it comes to Thanksgiving, the traditional feast is always most appreciated. A former New York Times food critic Sam Sifton shares in his positively reviewed new book Thanksgiving: How to Cook it Well that sticking to and mastering the classic dishes is a surefire way to appease the majority of your often eclectic group of guests.
3. Compose a heartfelt toast
The writer and teacher in me always enjoys beginning a meal bringing together family and friends with a thoughtful toast. While many prefer saying grace or commencing with a prayer, Thanksgiving often brings together a menagerie of guests with different faiths and beliefs. So in order to make sure everyone is comfortable and feels welcomed rather than excluded, a carefully crafted toast is a wonderful way to set the right tone. While on the fly can work adequately, putting extra forethought into your words is most certainly to be appreciated by your company. (Need help organizing your thoughts for nearly any occasion? Have a look at this book – Toasts: Over 1500 of the Best Toasts, Sentiments, Blessings and Graces by Paul Dickson)
4. Enjoy the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade
I always have the goal of watching the televised Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade when the festive day arrives (9 am EST on NBC). Much like watching A Christmas Story on Christmas Eve, the parade has always been a simple tradition I look forward to, and Thanksgiving just wouldn’t be the same without it.
5. Be present (limit the use of technology)
Choose to be present on Thanksgiving by focusing on and enjoying the company you have chosen to spend the day with and who has chosen to spend time with you.
6. Support, thank and defer to the hostess/host
While I’ve had Thanksgiving at my house before, I must say I am thankful that this weighty responsibility is not on my shoulders this year. And it is because of this past experience that I can now better understand the planning, preparation, time and money that is involved in this very special day. With that said, if you are a guest, let the spotlight shine brightly and deservingly on your hostess/host. Help if they need it, but then let them bask in the applause that they are very much deserving of. And be sure to bring a hostess gift, a dish if requested or a lovely bottle of wine.
7. Sit, sip and converse
As a variety of different ages are no doubt wandering about the house waiting for the golden bird to make its grand arrival, take the time to mingle with a drink of choice in hand and enjoy yourself as you catch up with those who have been invited.
8. Pinot noir’s shining moment
One of the most popular wine varietals from Oregon is fortunately a popular pairing choice with turkey. As an Oregonian, I must admit if there’s something I wouldn’t mind bragging about when it comes to my home state, it’s the many accolades lapped on our pinot noir industry. So if you’re still searching for a hostess gift or that perfect wine for dinner, be sure to choose a quality pinot noir. (Click here to see a long list of Oregon pinot noirs.)
9. Nibble and walk, walk and nibble
Last year I wrote a post focused on how to enjoy Thanksgiving because no matter how much the holiday event excites, it can also provoke a bit of anxiety when it comes to all of the food available. So in order to ensure you wake up Friday morning without tremendous food guilt, incorporate either your regular exercise routine into the day or find an opportunity to step outside and take a stroll. Your waistline will thank you and you will be better able to enjoy yourself throughout the entire day.
10. Don’t be afraid of lively conversation
Surprise, surprise, I find myself often in the middle of passionate, current event conversations during events such as Thanksgiving. And because Thanksgiving brings together a wide array of values, beliefs and opinions, as long as minds remain open, personal attacks are avoided and listening occurs as much as debating, such moments can be quite memorable.
11. Be willing to shift the narrative
If you happen to have relatives that tend to only be able to ask questions about your personal life, find the strength to shift the narrative to a topic that has the opportunity to broaden their perspective about who you are, instead of leaving them to rely on inaccurate stereotypes. (Click here to read a guide on how to navigate difficult holiday conversations.)
12. Pack the camera, forget the posing
If you are someone who enjoys snapping photos, be the fly on the wall and not the annoying intruder when it comes to capturing the day’s events. Capturing candid photos provides for images that could never be staged and opens the door for a greater appreciation of your hobby from those in your family.
No matter where or how you are celebrating the American turkey tradition, I want to wish you safe travels and many, many memorable moments. From the Simply Luxurious Life, have a wonderful Thanksgiving. Bon appétit!