From Thanksgiving 2009
Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday for so many reasons. First, it was the weekend that I was married, almost twenty-three years ago (now it's 31 years!). I am blessed with a wonderful husband who has always encouraged me to live my dreams. For that, I am forever grateful. It also is a holiday filled with some very enjoyable traditions. I will share mine here, and ask that each of you share one or two special traditions that make this holiday important to you as well. If you haven’t found a way to enliven the day with your own sense of spirit and fun, please think about what you can do to take it up a notch – really put the pizzazz into your Thanksgiving with interpersonal touches that embrace the warm sense of the holiday’s intention, to be thankful for all that surrounds you.
Our typical Thanksgiving begins early. My husband makes a killer apple pancake, and we invite another family to enjoy the breakfast, friends from my husband’s childhood who have joined us for years now. They bring the milk and orange juice (pulp free of course) and we supply the rest. The kids eat, then run off and enjoy the special time together, playing games, watching the Thanksgiving Day parade, and creating treasure hunts. After the table is cleared, my friend and I first scavenge through the coupons that fill the newspaper, and then compare size of turkeys, cooking methods, and preparation times. The men sit on the couch, reading the paper and watching the football pre-game show.
Later, our Thanksgiving guests arrive at 4:30 p.m. From the moment they come in, take-home containers in hand, there is chatter and laughter filling the house. The food is of course an important presence, but it’s the fun and connections that truly make the holiday special.
Our Thanksgiving meal begins with each person at the table sharing what he or she is grateful for. My sister once gave us a small stone with the word “gratitude” engraved on it. It is passed around as everyone shares his or her blessings, praises life’s successes, cries happy tears for the joyous moments, and sad tears for those missing at the table. As a family and friends, we are growing up together, and sharing gratitude with each other holds very special meaning for us all.
After dinner, containers come out, and everyone fills them with leftovers. Each person who brings a dish makes sure to make extra so that the Thanksgiving meal can be enjoyed again, even if you aren’t the host of the party! And then the games begin. Anyone who comes to our house for Thanksgiving knows to bring a white elephant. This is a somewhat used, somewhat undesired left over item, carefully and beautifully wrapped. A game is played using dice, and the wrapped treasures are awarded if a six is rolled. Once all packages are accounted for, the gifts are opened and each person describes what is inside. There are typically some special gifts, like a vase or BBQ tools. And there are the really special gifts, the most sought after fish pen that comes back year after year or the George Foreman autograph, on a Foreman Grill postcard. Then the excitement starts as dice are once again tossed, and every six rolled allows the roller to steal a gift. When the timer goes off, what is in front of you is what you take home.
Following that craziness, the trivia contest starts. We pair up our guests somewhat randomly; one of the young guests is paired with an older guest. It’s a great way for two generations to bond and share fun and knowledge together. We take away all cell phones so Internet googling to find answers won’t give one team an advantage. Prizes are awarded, and laughter fills the air.
While every year brings stress and struggle in some form or another to everyone, it is most important to take time to reflect on the big or small gratitudes, successes, or triumphs in life. As you enjoy your Thanksgiving, whether on your own or in a group, please make sure to identify the positive influences in your life. If you don’t already have some traditions that make this holiday stand out, think about what you can do to bring special meaning to the day.
Don’t forget to add your comments here with your own gratitudes and traditions. Also, let me know if you would like to get more detailed instructions for the white elephant game or need some quick, easy recipes for stuffing, pies: pecan, pumpkin, French silk, and key lime; each pie has less than six ingredients and tastes fantastic. Most of all, know that each one of you reading this has, in some way or another, touched my life, and for that I am grateful.