What to Do When You Aren’t Happy with Your Thanksgiving Traditions

by dena on November 13, 2014


Are you happy with your Thanksgiving traditions, as they are right now? Maybe you are. Your Thanksgiving holiday times might be exactly the way you like them.

If not . . .

For a moment, ask yourself, “Are there any changes I might make, if I could? if my actions wouldn’t hurt anyone’s feelings? What might I wish to add – or subtract – that could bring more ease, comfort, and loving interactions?”

Questions like these help to evaluate what parts of this holiday do and don’t work well for you.

Of course, sometimes life events occur that result in some of our traditions no longer being possible. For instance, maybe the people who have long hosted the meal have moved away, or someone dies or divorces, or maybe you are the one who no longer lives near enough to join your people as you did. Maybe your Thanksgiving time is a clean slate, and you can create what will work best.


The following sections may help you look at this part of your life differently, toward finding happiness with your chosen actions for Thanksgiving.



Possible New Traditions (aka: Gratitude Ideas, for Thanksgiving & Life)

I’ve been reading one of my very favorite magazines, livehappy. On every page are lurking occasions for smiling as well as sources of wisdom and inspiration.

In an article on increasing Gratitude experiences each day of November, here are a handful of the tips and quotes you might like as much as I do.

  • Watch movies that inspire gratitude, such as the one about Charlie Brown and Thanksgiving on tv, It’s a Wonderful Life, Forrest Gump.
  • Donate a turkey.
  • Find out how to say “thank you” in multiple languages.
  • Bring/serve hot meals to those who are hungry.
  • Gratitude Jar – each person in your home writes 1 gratitude on a slip of paper each morning, then you share them at the end of the day. (I say, let this idea lead you to whatever version of it will work for you and your fam/friends/co-workers.)
  • For a lovely do-with-children project based on giving thanks, pop over to see Andie’s post at Everyday Small Stuff.





Thankfulness Quotations (Where can you share these?)

  • Patch Adams – “At the age of 18, I made up my mind to never have another bad day in my life. I dove into an endless sea of gratitude from which I’ve never emerged.”
  • Maya Angelou – “When we give cheerfully and accept gratefully, everyone is blessed.”
  • Lionel Hampton – “Gratitude is when memory is stored in the heart and not in the mind.”
  • Kristin Armstrong – “When we focus on our gratitude, the tide of disappointment goes out and the tide of love rushes in.”
  • Joyce Brothers – “Feeling gratitude isn’t born in us – it’s something we are taught, and in turn, we teach our children.”
  • Henry Ward Beecher – “Gratitude is the fairest blossom which springs from the soul.”


A Few Changes I Have Made

* I made a decision in 1985 I never again wanted to drive more than a few miles on the day before Thanksgiving. After a 2 and 1/2-hour drive that day turned into 6 hours, during which I heard on the radio it was the highest traffic day of the year in the U.S., it was suddenly important to me to stay put on that day.

* Nearly every Thanksgiving for about forty years, our family gathered in the home of Aunt Kiddy. She died in 1997, then my mother and husband died within the next five years. We had gone from a family of six to three. For the next few years, my father, sister, and I found special restaurants where we could eat and attempt to be a bit more cheerful than we probably felt.

We got our “extended family fix” by visiting Aunt M. and cousins on Friday or Saturday of the Thanksgiving weekend. For the past nine years, we have been warmly welcomed by Aunt M. for Thanksgiving day dinner. We all share in bringing the various dishes.

* Nine months ago, my father began residing in an assisted living home designed for memory support. They host a feast midday on Thanksgiving. Two days later, we will bring him as we travel to see our extended family on Saturday.

This will be the first time in over forty years that I will not be on the road during the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. I plan to watch it with my father, sitting in the lovely great room in his “new” home. As I will arrive before the parade begins, he and I might see every moment of the televised event! Perhaps my sister will join us. Both having the meal there and watching the parade together may become a new tradition. Or, is it a renewed tradition, from childhood?


Thanksgiving image_ w candle

Traditions from Yesteryear – What Did You Like?

* As early as the 1970’s, after a sweet family meal on Thanksgiving Day, Uncle Mace and Aunt Kiddy took us to a family owned landscaping nursery that had their own traditions of being decorated for Christmas as well as open Thanksgiving afternoon. It was a kind of wonderland of lighted trees, and all the decorations were for sale. Each year we would purchase special Christmas gifts for folks on our list plus one or two new ornaments to bring home for our own holiday trees.

It occurs to me I could be inspired by that memory go to a favorite local gift shop this holiday, Rebecca’s Well, during the weekend. (I am not a Black Friday enthusiast.)

* What Thanksgiving traditions have you enjoyed, even a long time ago? Is there a way to incorporate some elements that would serve you now?


However you celebrate, I wish for you a holiday filled with love, gratitude, and making new memories.


Blissings, Dena

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