In most years, Thanksgiving in my family begins with a series of emails. We coordinate food, sleep accommodations, birthday celebrations (we have 3 late November birthdays), and weekend outings. Before you know it, the side dishes have been accounted for and the pie sign up is complete. The rest is joyful chaos. But this year’s email chain looked different. Pulling 20+ people together from three states in the 2nd—or is it the 3rd?—wave of a global pandemic was a heavier topic than who would bring the stuffing.
And that’s it, isn’t it? We’re stuffed.
Stuffed full of grief and anger over an event—a virus—so seismically out of our control that nearly half of Americans have canceled all plans and are staying home this Thanksgiving.
When the normal rhythms of gathering and retreating have skewed too much toward the latter, what can a family do?
The script we’ve been following for Thanksgiving will like get caught up in rehearsals this year. Age old traditions may not make it to final production. And so I want to invite you to take a moment to breathe, and then cast a new vision for your Thanksgiving holiday. If you’re willing, join me for an exercise to help us make the most of the week ahead:
Where will you be this Thanksgiving Day? Who will be with you? If at home, how do you want your space to feel? Smell? Sound?
What is one Thanksgiving dish that, no matter how small the table, you’ll be sure not to skip this year? Is there a classic family recipe that you can prepare to honor someone you can’t be with?
What special readings would you like to incorporate into your day?
What runs, hikes, hunts or outdoor adventures would you like to do? Any special games you’ll want to play or movies that feel iconic to this holiday?
How can you initiate and cultivate gratitude in your heart and the hearts of your family and children this year?
How can you plan to be generous this year, as a family? Is there an organization that comes to mind where you could volunteer on Thanksgiving weekend or give financially?
What local businesses can you support this Thanksgiving weekend? (Do the research now on business hours, restrictions, an online platform or curbside pickup of all of your favorites).
Have you asked your children what Thanksgiving brings to mind for them? The answers may be simpler and more feasible than you think. For instance, my daughter Harper said turkey hats are a must. Easily done.
Rewriting the narrative NOW from what this holiday weekend should look like to what it will actually look like will not only help your family prepare for the week ahead, but you may also find new scripts you’d like to keep.
Have a beautifully simple Thanksgiving, friends.
***Photos were taken by Lesley-Ann Tommey in fall 2019 for my husband’s 40th birthday.***