Thanksgiving Day conjures up images of happy family gatherings, tables laden with glorious food and limitless shopping the day after. All too often, the essence of this significant day gets lost in the merrymaking, eating and drinking, and the anticipation of Black Friday sales. But it needn’t be that way. We all have the choice to observe a mindful Thanksgiving Day. Pass up on the binge eating, the dread of meeting relatives you’re not particularly fond of and the consumerism in stores.
Thanksgiving Day is an opportune time to teach the kids (and adults, too!) lessons in mindfulness that will last long after the day has gone. Let’s call to mind the true spirit of gratitude by following these simple tips.
How to Have a Mindful Thanksgiving Celebration
Express gratitude before the main meal.
Before everyone partakes of the lavish offerings at the table, start the practice of having each person say a prayer of gratitude for anything they are thankful for. It can be a thing, a person or a memory that made you happy. Teach the little kids by pointing out what they can give thanks for, like the pet dog or a best friend. It will instill in them appreciation for life’s graces. Gratitude is a key attribute of mindfulness and a life that is not material-oriented. It promotes compassion and kindness for others in less fortunate situations.
Thanksgiving is always associated with food and in a traditional celebration, there is always too much of it from morning ‘til night. Instead of gobbling up the roast turkey and its stuffing, the casseroles and pies, take the time to chew each spoonful you put into your mouth. Savor the aroma and visual delight of each food and silently give thanks for the people who prepared them. Explore the texture of every ingredient and rediscover long-forgotten tastes. If you carry on this practice long after Thanksgiving Day has passed, you’ll find that you are eating less, losing weight and feeling healthier.
Listen to the stories being told.
Yes, you might have heard of a grand uncle’s war experiences and your aunt’s popular recipes with half an ear. Your cousins will recount stories of their exciting life in university or of working in sought-after companies. If you’re thinking that you already the endings of these stories or you’re busy trying to think of a better tale to surpass the others, stop. Be mindful and truly listen. You’ll know about their lives and maybe change your low opinion of them, if that’s how you saw them before. You learn to be less judgmental and have more empathy for others once you hear their stories.
Mindfully clean up after the celebration.
If you’re the host, you’ll have to clean up when everyone has left. Focus on one area at a time. Clean the patio first before starting on the kitchen and finish up each area of the house one by one. Cleaning the house is a routine task that gives you a peaceful break after all the hectic preparations. Develop a keener awareness of the nooks and crannies of your dwelling. Be grateful for the laughter and love that make it a home. If the gathering is held in another relative’s house, offer to help the host in cleaning up after. Your efforts will be greatly appreciated. You’ll also give the host will have more time to rest and relax if there’s another pair of helping hands to clean up.
Share the blessings with people who do not have as much.
There is usually too much food prepared for Thanksgiving Day. After everyone has had their fill, bring the extra food to a soup kitchen or an orphanage so other people can partake of your lavish meals. Bring the younger ones along to inculcate in them the values of generosity, compassion and kindness. These are lessons that will last them throughout their lives and make them better persons.
Image source: Thanksgiving Turkey by Ruocaled. ww.flickr.com