Once again, the holidays are upon us and for many, 2021 will mark two years since we’ve gathered with those we love to celebrate the season. And since we’ve had some time away from it all, this holiday season may just be the perfect time to make it all a little healthier and happier. Enjoy the genuine happiness that comes from feeling true gratitude this Thanksgiving instead of the stress, obligation, and overindulgence we often experience. Take some time this year to envision a holiday season that serves the best parts of yourself and those you love. What does that gathering look like? What’s included and what’s not? Here are some suggestions on how to give a nod to the better parts of ourselves this Thanksgiving and leave the rest behind:
- Keep the menu simple. You know that dish that has always been part of the Thanksgiving spread, but that secretly nobody likes? This may be the year to let that one go. Don’t be afraid to pare down the menu, even if it means breaking with tradition. As families change and grow, so do traditions. Focus on the parts of the holiday that you and your guests truly enjoy.
- Let everyone contribute. Yep, times they are a-changin’ and the expectation that everyone contributes to the shared table is on the rise. Even kids and grumpy great-uncles! A contribution can be as simple as helping set the table, bringing a bagged salad kit, preparing the stuffing ahead of time, providing and filling drinks, or helping with dishes. When everyone contributes, the meal becomes more meaningful to all involved.
- Consider preparing lighter versions of the classics. The average American consumes 3,000 calories at the Thanksgiving meal! The butter, the pies, and the gravy-laden potatoes add up. For some, Thanksgiving marks the beginning of a whole month of overindulgence that leaves us feeling guilty and overwhelmed as we ring in the new year. The time to start moving towards the best version of yourself is NOW. If you commit now to a daily walk, lighter versions of your holiday favorites, and a cap on those holiday cocktails, your 2022 self will be thanking you in droves come January.
- Put out fresh fruit and vegetables. In our attempt to keep with tradition, we often leave out even an option for having a healthy holiday meal. If you put out a store-bought veggie tray or a dessert choice of berries and whipped cream, you may be surprised how many are delighted at a healthy option.
- Focus on gratitude and not the food. Focus less on the food and booze, and cultivate a spirit of gratitude this holiday season. We’ve all been through some stressful times lately, but we have the opportunity to make this Thanksgiving a time to acknowledge all that is still going right. Consider making gratitude a topic of discussion at the Thanksgiving table and be sure to keep gratitude at the front of your own thoughts as you navigate the holidays this year.
This year, keep it simple. Keep it sweet. And enjoy this Thanksgiving with the grateful spirit that it’s intended for.