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Healthy Women's World

How to Enjoy the True Spirit of Thanksgiving

  • by Helene Rothschild, MS, MA, MFT, Marriage, Family Therapist

  • Happy Thanksgiving

    Do you find yourself stressed planning your thanksgiving feast? Would you like to find out how you can enjoy a more relaxed, fun time and feel the true spirit of this yearly event? Then read on for some suggestions of how you can create a day of thanksgiving instead of stress and exhaustion.

    I personally would rather be filled with joy and gratitude instead of just stuffed with food on this joyous occasion. After all, the essence of the holiday is to acknowledge and celebrate all the positive things in your life. It is a time that reminds us to be grateful and appreciate everything and everyone, including ourselves. Is that the experience you have had or are planning?

    To the contrary, I was a guest at a family Thanksgiving that I felt was missing the true spirit of the holiday. Four stressed women were rushing around the kitchen preparing the many traditional courses. They were getting ready to serve enough for 20 people when only 10 were present. Can you relate to that?

    After at least two days of preparation, we all finally sat down by the decorative table filled with the colorful foods. Immediately the adults and children started to stuff their plates and themselves of all that would fit on them. It seemed like a movie on fast forward. In no time, the meal was over and the cleaning process began. Some guests went straight to the television.

    When everyone was ready, a violent rented movie was the entertainment for the night. I quickly retreated to the bedroom to avoid the scary music and abusive actions.

    Needless to say, I left feeling a strange sensation of being physically full, but emotionally and spiritually empty. I decided at that point that I would only create or attend holistic thanksgivings.

    The next year I invited people who I knew were alone and did not have a place to go on this joyous holiday. I asked the guests to bring a traditional dish so that no one, especially me, would have to slave in the kitchen for days.

    Before we consumed the delicious looking food, I suggested that everyone share what they were thankful for. People expressed gratitude for their health, relationships, children, homes, abundance, and jobs. Others were grateful for their opportunities to make a difference in this world.

    Of course, we blessed the food and all the people who made it possible for us to have the provisions available on the table. Finally, we began to slowly enjoy the color, taste, and texture of the different food offerings.

    After dinning, we gathered in the living room to share more of our blessings and play some fun, group games. Charades is always a great choice. Hours later, we all left filled with food, and also satisfied emotionally and spiritually because we experienced the essence of Thanksgiving.

    On other occasions, I invited friends over for a Day After Thanksgiving Potluck. I asked people to just bring their leftovers, and I made sure that I had a plain cake and lots of candles ready.

    We all gathered in the living room where I had placed glowing candles on the coffee table next to the cake. To create a reverent mood, I turned off the ceiling lights. Then I offered everyone the opportunity to come up to the table one at a time in silence, light a candle, place it on the cake, and then share with the group what they were thankful for. The rest of us remained quiet and just listened. There was no discussion, just heartfelt sharing.

    "The First Thanksgiving", painted by Jean Leon Gerome Ferris (18631930)./

    To demonstrate the gratitude ritual, I lit a candle, put it on the cake, and told them how thankful I was that everyone was here tonight to share their food, love, joy, and gratitude. I also included some personal appreciations. When the next person was ready, they quietly came up and did the same.

    The room was filled with reverence, peace, love, and joy. After everyone had the opportunity to participate, we did a lot of hugging, and went into the kitchen to also enjoy the physical nurturing.

    The guests took part in the cleaning up and when they all left, I felt so fulfilled. The gratitude gauge was very high. I felt satisfied that I had created exactly what I wanted, a holistic, satisfying Thanksgiving. I was fed spiritually, emotionally, mentally, and physically. That is a delicious feeling you have to experience to know. Happy Thanksgiving!, Inc. Happy Thanksgiving

    Copyright 2007 by Helene Rothschild, MS, MA, MFT, Marriage, Family Therapist. Her newest book is, "ALL YOU NEED IS HART! Create Love, Joy and Abundance~NOW." For her free newsletter, MP3 audio, and ebook, go to: . Note the fantastic limited time special offer: