By Brian Coatney
If there’s a flagship holiday that draws in everyone, it’s Thanksgiving. You get sucked into the warmth and feasting of one special day, feeling connected and privileged with bounty.
As the day approaches, it’s fun to ask others, “Are you cooking for Thanksgiving?” Answers usually range from “No” to “Taking a dish,” to “Doing all the work.”
Aside from all of the hoopla that goes into preparing a big feast, it’s important to remember why it’s such a big day.
We don’t need a poll to sense that people who give thanks are happier, and a holiday can’t take the place of giving thanks year round. The actual day should simply be a reminder everything there is to be thankful for.
Just in case you need a boost, here are some ideas to enrich the spirit of thanks and the spirit of giving.
A professor once said in class, “When people question if there’s a God because of the problem of evil, I ask them to consider the problem of good.”
If we all gave in to a doomsday view of life, there wouldn’t be a Thanksgiving, so keep your hope alive. If it’s a tiny spark about to go out, cup it in your hands and blow gently on it.
Connect with others
We’re also not creatures of isolation. It’s in us to want to connect with each other. That might be as simple as formulating the holiday menu, doing the grocery shopping, mashing a few potatoes, setting the table or maybe just a hug for an industrious cook who wants to do it all. Probably, no one will object to helping clear the table or wash a few dishes. Then you can take that big carbohydrate nap.
Disconnect from cyberspace
With Facebook, Twitter, and hi tech phones, the world seems social enough, maybe too much. However, who would say that social media can compete with face-to-face warmth and interest in each other. If a picture is worth a thousand words, being with others in person and connecting has to be off the charts.
Embrace the nostalgia of it all
Look at the steam rising out of the turkey as a chosen delegate slices it to perfection. If you’re a vegetarian, look at the sweet potatoes with their perfect orange and the glaze of white marshmallows just starting to run together tinted with golden brown. It’s a day for any or all of your favorites. Just remember that the second piece of pie may be the one that loosens your belt.
How about a walk or a bike ride after a time of “resting and digesting,” as my niece Ruthie Howard calls it. Don’t let this be a day for piling on the guilt about culinary splurges, but if you can work in some exercise (possibly a dance battle) with family or friends, that enhances the day even more.
Instead of weighing all the hassles of arranging and getting everything to come together, enjoy one minute at a time and cherish another year gone by with its blessings and love. If it’s been a terrible year, it’s an opportunity to say, “Gee, I’m still here, and hopefully next year will be better.”
Enjoy as much of it as you can. Life goes by way too fast, so it’s worth a holiday like Thanksgiving to catch our breath and express as much thanks and giving as we can.
Pay it forward this holiday season
1. Invite a neighbor over for Thanksgiving
dinner, especially if they are new to the area. A lot of military families are far away from home so a tiny gesture could make them feel more welcome in a new environment.
2. Discreetly pay for a stranger’s meal the next time you dine-in. The best good deeds could be the ones you receive no recognition for.
3. Leave money in the vending machine for the next person who comes to buy a snack or drink.
4. Remember that time your coworker helped you with a situation or loaned you a few dollars for lunch? Say thanks and stick it to a candy cane or Hershey kiss.
5. Believe it or not, the holidays are a tough time of year for a lot of people. Leave an encouraging Post-it note on a stranger’s car window. Simple, quick and free, but it could totally brighten
We want to know how you and your family give thanks and pay it forward during the holidays.
Share your traditions on our Facebook page, “Hoptown Families.”