Thanksgiving is going to look a bit different this year. According to the American Automobile Association, fewer Americans will be traveling than last year. If you plan to gather with friends and family outside your household, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention has posted some guidelines to help you celebrate safely.
In addition to spending time with family and friends, Thanksgiving is about gratitude. Nine months into an unpredictable pandemic, we are all suffering from feelings of uncertainty. We are facing constant health and economic concerns. With Covid-19 rates spiking across the USA, Americans are unsure about what the future holds. If you’re struggling to focus or overcome by emotions, you’re not alone. Humans don’t do well with uncertainty – and 67% of respondents in a recent survey reported higher stress levels. Additionally, 53% said they are emotionally exhausted.
There is a practice that has been proven to help. Gratitude can help minimize the impacts of uncertainty on our wellbeing. “Gratitude is an emotion that grounds us and is a great way to balance out the negative mindset that uncertainty engenders,” said Dr. Guy Winch, author of the book Emotional First Aid.
Gratitude is especially helpful for those of us who are suffering. A recent study of college students seeking mental health care, found that adding a practice of writing letters of gratitude to their therapy led to significantly better mental health outcomes.
Robert Emmons, a leading scientific expert on gratitude, explains the two reasons gratitude is useful for helping us see the bright side of life. First, it helps us acknowledge that there is goodness in our lives. There are gifts and benefits we’ve received. Secondly, gratitude helps us realize that this source of goodness lies outside ourselves. Either other humans, nature, or – if you’re spiritual- a higher power gives us gifts to help us achieve goodness in our lives. You can learn more about the science of gratitude at the Greater Good Science Center online.
I lie in bed at night, after ending my prayers, with the words thank you, God, for all that is good and dear and beautiful.
This year, you can have a memorable and gratitude-filled Thanksgiving with your household members and further-flung friends and family. We’ve created a list of suggestions to help.
Tips for a Grateful Thanksgiving Small Gathering
- Virtual Turkey Trot. You can still get some exercise and donate to charity on Thanksgiving. There are virtual foot races all over the US.
- Rethink your turkey. If it’s a smaller group – buy a smaller bird. Or choose parts – like thighs or breasts. Then again –farmers have been growing turkeys to the standard Thanksgiving size – so buy your typical bird and enjoy leftovers. You can choose the “Leftover Turkey” profile from your daily profile dropdown or search “Leftover Turkey” in your Dinnertime Recipe Box.
- Reach out. With most Americans responsibly staying at home this year, loneliness is spiking. Check with your neighbors to see if they would like a home-cooked meal. You can drop it off for them on Thanksgiving.
- Food swap. If you live close enough and don’t want to miss out on the wide variety of side dishes, swap different sides with family and friends. Make enough to share, pack the extra in a Tupperware, and designate a meeting place. Some people participate in food swaps all year long.
- Share a virtual toast. Virtually visit far-flung family and friends for a gratitude toast or enjoy the entire meal with distant loved ones over Zoom.
- Plan activities. Share stories. You can tell the saga of America’s founding, then talk about how your family came to America. There are several virtual Thanksgiving activities that you can participate in person and with virtual dinner mates. Host a Thanksgiving Day scavenger hunt or play The Gratitude Game.
From our DinnerTime family to yours, we wish you a memorable and gratitude-filled Thanksgiving.
– Angela Jansen, Vice President, Analytics and Population Health
There’s more than turkey on your table!
Search for Thanksgiving recipes in your DinnerTime Recipe Box.