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New Thanksgiving Traditions

Finding Ways to Connect

Our yearly day of thanks is almost here! Traditionally, Thanksgiving is a fun-filled day spent with family, food, and plenty of good will. This is the year to find creative ways to achieve these same good feels, and there are many ways to celebrate and show our gratitude!  

Traditions bind us. Whether it’s the special hand-made dinner rolls or the annual family football game, traditions bind us together and keep us coming back for more. As the years roll by, so do the memories – the kids always set the table, a favorite aunt always brings the pumpkin pie, and grandpa always carves the turkey. This year gives us a chance to rethink our normal approach. Traditions are precious, true – but is there a chance now to improve upon them? Can we find a way to connect that brings even more meaning to our normal day of thanks?

Thanksgiving is more than just a meal. The idea of a traditional Thanksgiving was made real by the wonderful art of Norman Rockwell. His iconic image of extended family at the table, with an outsized turkey and all the trimmings, is entitled “Freedom from Want.” In 1943, when Rockwell created this famous painting, the world was at war – and had been for four years. World War II was a global conflict that involved most developed countries and spanned two U.S. presidential terms, from 1939 to 1945. In a similar way, the pandemic has taken its toll on American life in 2020, bringing a different meaning to our annual day of gratitude.

New ways to give thanks.

This Thanksgiving is a special opportunity to think of new ways to celebrate – maybe even new ways that will become traditions in years to come. Having a small outdoor dinner with family and friends holds lower risk if you follow the guidelines. Or perhaps it’s the year to host a community meal for those who are alone and can’t visit – or be visited – by their loved ones. Heat lamps and heavy blankets can guard against the cold, and a cozy fire pit might give it extra ambience. Holding the meal in the middle of the day would give older members of the family a chance to get outside and stay warm enough to enjoy the meal. And little ones will love the outdoor play time!

For those who can’t leave home at all or have visitors, this year is a unique chance to give back. There are safe ways to prepare and provide meals for those who are homebound, and services like Meals on Wheels often need volunteers this time of year. In a wonderful new addition to their services, Meals on Wheels now offers a “Friendly Chat” program for volunteers to make calls to those who are homebound. It might be a good year to make a few calls and brighten the day of someone who is alone on Thanksgiving.

While Thanksgiving Day is usually the biggest travel day of the year, this is a good year to stay home and make some new traditions. There are plenty of ways to celebrate safely! Visit a pumpkin patch or apple orchard, then make a pie at home. Host a virtual dinner with extended family members on Zoom (it’s more fun than you think!). Cozy up on the couch to watch the  annual Macy’s parade, football games, or your favorite movies. Take some time to give thanks for the little things we can all still enjoy from the comfort of home. And this is an especially good year to avoid the madness of the shopping center and do your early holiday shopping online! 


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