Thanksgiving is all about family and being grateful for the good things in our lives. It’s also about sharing, and generosity to those less well-off than ourselves. While Christmas is increasingly dominated by gift-giving, Thanksgiving is more specifically about coming together and appreciating what we already have. It’s also a uniquely American holiday, with many traditions old and new that reflect the diversity of our heritage.
This year has been a difficult one for many, and there’s no denying that in 2020, Thanksgiving may be a little different than usual. We should all be following the latest advice regarding COVID-19 and maintaining best practice in terms of hygiene and social distancing. Unfortunately, this may mean that in some cases the whole family won’t be able to come together as usual. But there are still many activities that you can enjoy to celebrate the Thanksgiving spirit.
Start the day with a special breakfast
In terms of food, Thanksgiving is rightly all about the big Thanksgiving dinner. But that takes time to prepare; indeed, the preparation is often part of the ritual (see below). Many people don’t actually sit down to eat Thanksgiving dinner until later in the day, and in the meantime, people are going to get hungry.
Avoid this by starting the day off right with a big, buffet-style breakfast. Coffee, juice, a selection of breads and pastries, ham and eggs or maybe cold meats and cheeses could all be included. Having it set-up buffet-style means that late risers can help themselves while you get on with preparing dinner. It can also be left out to feed guests who are arriving on the day.
Allow yourself some ‘Me’ time
Family get-togethers are all kinds of fun, but they can also be stressful, especially if you’re the one who’s organizing things. Don’t feel bad about taking a few minutes to be on your own, relaxing in your own way. You could play live dealer baccarat in New Jersey on your phone or tablet in order to unwind. Whether you win or lose, you’ll have enjoyed some quality entertainment and can go back to the family refreshed.
Involve everyone in preparing a meal
Although too many cooks in a small kitchen can be a nightmare, finding a way to get everyone present involved in preparing a meal is very much in the Thanksgiving spirit of togetherness, and stops the burden falling on just one person. The key to managing this successfully is delegation. Ask younger children to lay the table, while one adult prepares the dressing and another keeps an eye on the potatoes.
An alternative plan is to ask everyone to bring a pre-prepared dish that can be heated up or put straight on the table to be shared. You can also involve the kids in serving dessert, or clearing things away while the adults relax with a glass of wine.
The weather isn’t always ideal for a walk at Thanksgiving, but if you can get out to experience the beautiful fall scenery, then it’s definitely a good idea, whether you’re with family or not. The more athletic among you might want to see if there’s a local Turkey Trot that you can join in with. For the rest of us, turn off the TV, force yourself off the couch and wrap up warm. Walking can encourage conversations you wouldn’t otherwise have had, and you definitely won’t regret getting some winter exercise.
Play board games together
Nothing says “traditional family get-together” like a communal board game. Dig out that old Monopoly set, Snakes and Ladders or the old favorites of your childhood. Board games are unchallenging, uncomplicated fun and, like walks, are often a great excuse for the kind of light, fun conversations you might not otherwise get to have.
This year, more than others, there may be family members that can’t be with you. Make them a part of your gathering anyway by setting aside a time to hook up with them via Skype, Zoom or even just an old-fashioned phone call. If you’re the one who can’t travel, why not make a video in advance and either share it with family online or send it to them in the post? Whatever you do, don’t forget to take plenty of photos of your celebrations to look back on later.
Find a moment as well to express your gratitude this Thanksgiving. Write down the things you’re grateful for, and share them with those that you’re close to. Donating your time or your money to good causes is another worthwhile activity to take part in, and it can be done as a family.
However you spend Thanksgiving, try to enjoy it and leave your worries and pressures behind.