Thanksgiving is a time for people to come together and give thanks for the blessings they have in their lives. Oftentimes, it also becomes a holiday where we stress out, overeat, and waste food.
Mindfulness is the state of active, open attention to the present, allowing you to live and experience each moment. By bringing mindfulness into our holidays, we can enjoy everything as we are living it. As the famous monk Thich Nhat Hanh says, “Mindfulness is like that – it is the miracle which can call back in a flash our dispersed mind and restore it to wholeness so that we can live each minute of life.”
Here are seven ways to have a mindful Thanksgiving that won’t leave you dreading next year.
How to Host a Mindful Thanksgiving
1. Don’t stress! This is probably an extremely difficult task if you’re the host, but it’s important to remember what this holiday is about – family and friends, being grateful and gracious, and good food. The people filling your home are not expecting perfection. They are coming to celebrate a joyous occasion with you. So don’t worry if the turkey is a little dry, you burnt the stuffing, or someone forgot whipped cream. What’s more important is that everyone is together, eating delicious food, and enjoying each other’s company.
2. Delegate. Make the turkey and pot luck the rest! Have each person coming bring a dish or beverage, making sure that all the staples are covered, and you’ll have all the time in the world to enjoy yourself.
3. Slow down and enjoy the moment. This applies to everything from cooking to eating to cleaning. Suggest that everyone start the meal by saying thanks to the cook, the food, and each other. Eat your first few bites of the meal by really paying attention to the color, presentation, and flavors. Enjoy the simplicity and quiet that comes with cleaning dishes or your home, preparing it for the people who will soon be filling it. You’ll enjoy everything more when you make an effort to be conscious about your actions. Thich Nhat Hanh writes, “Don’t do any task in order to get it over with. Resolve to do each job in a relaxed way, with all your attention. Enjoy and be one with your work.”
4. Start small. When you take your first round of food, don’t overload your plate. Only take a small portion and suggest that everyone do the same. With the amount of time and care that goes into making all the food, it’s a shame for it to be gobbled down without anyone stopping to breathe.
5. Send off the leftovers. Ask friends to take their containers back full, not empty! Sharing will help spread holiday cheer and you will have a more manageable refrigerator with food that won’t go to waste.
6. Donate to a food bank. As great as it is to have a roof over our heads and the food on our plates, it’s important to remember that there are others who may not have as much. Find some time to volunteer at a food bank, drop off food or clothing to a shelter or non-profit, or find a soup kitchen that may need an extra hand with cooking or serving. Your altruism will make you appreciate everything you have and make someone else’s holiday wonderful.
7. Practice being grateful. This goes almost without saying for a holiday that is named for giving thanks, but a wonderful idea is to have everyone write down what they are thankful for and to share before starting the meal. Set up a box with scraps of paper and pens and have people write what they’re thankful for and hang it up on a board, a makeshift “tree” (can be done with your November Bedroom Artisan Box vase and some small branches from outside), or anonymously in a box.
Make this Thanksgiving one to remember for years to come.
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Post by Barbara Lee.
Barbara is a world traveler who is passionate about sustainable food systems, responsible consumerism, and holistic living. Her professional background and interests include writing, cooking, non-profit work, and eco-conservation.