Ahh Thanksgiving. A time for tear filled reunions, food porn galore, and of course the awkward encounter with relatives you only see once a year. This year as we mentally check out from our lives away from school and gear up for another holiday, here’s a few things to be mindful of (and also just some fun Thanksgiving gifs).
Break the Cycle
Like many American traditions, the history of Thanksgiving has been misconstrued to become a wholesome family holiday. The first thanksgiving in 1637 was marked by the return of armed colonials to the Massachusetts colony. Where were they returning from you ask? No aunt Sally, sadly they weren’t joining Native Americans in a decadent feast. These men were arriving from Mystic, Connecticut where 700 Pequot Indians were murdered to prepare for future colonial settlements. While many of us have corrected this false history lesson, it’s important to be aware of how the future generations understand America’s past. So while you shovel fork fulls of mashed potatoes down your throat, take a second to engage with the younger members of your family and ask them what they know about Thanksgiving.
2. Give Back!
Thanksgiving just isn’t the same without food, and LOTS of it! Between the potatoes, turkey, green bean casserole, sweet potatoes, salads, beets, stuffing (okay I’m getting carried away), there tends to be more than a few leftover dishes. But instead of leaving those leftovers to sit in your fridge for the next three weeks, consider donating them to your local food pantry! A lot of people don’t realize that Thanksgiving leftovers can be repurposed and given back to the Salt Lake community. Get in touch with Utah’s food bank here and see how your donations can make a difference.
3. Keep your cool
Between the teeth grinding conversations with irksome relatives, the busy roads and airports, and just the overall pressure of family holidays– Thanksgiving can be stressful. Do yourself a favor and plan ahead. Whether that means giving yourself an extra hour for the security line at the airport or setting expectations for tedious exchanges, set your intention for the week and you will be happier with whatever may come!
When it comes to those rage provoking conversations between family member of complete opposite beliefs, sometimes it is better to stick to topics everyone can agree on. But if you do decide to embark on those challenging subjects (hats off to you), go into it with the expectation that you are not going to change their opinion. Having hard conversations are important because they create opportunity for different point of view to be heard. It’s not very often that your elderly relatives will get in one argument and flip a 180, but they might think back on it later than night and begin to understand where you are coming from. And while it can be frustrating feeling like your opinions aren’t heard or valued, remember that all we can control in this life is how we act or react. It’s not in your power to command their agreement.
Thanksgiving offers the last bit of relaxation before finals. We can step away from our busy lives (or play catch up on procrastinated assignments) and just enjoy being with those we love. This holiday season, make sure to think of ways you can give back to the community. Either by donating food to those in need or by making sure America’s past isn’t changed to erase its mistakes. If you find yourself in an aggravating chat, stay calm and maintain realistic expectations. Most of all eat as much food as physically possible, we all know how valuable those home cooked meals are.