Thanksgiving Day can be awesome and relaxing or stressful and anxiety-provoking. Some people love it, while others simply try to survive it. Those who love it look forward to taking the day off, eating great food and hanging out with friends and family. Those who survive it see the day as another reason to be stressed. They worry about the food, dread the difficult family interactions and don’t enjoy entertaining (or being entertained). Fortunately, you get to decide which day it will be for you.
The key word in Thanksgiving is “thanks.” This word is there to remind us of the importance of taking the time to see the gifts in life. Thanksgiving is not about setting the most beautiful table or making the most delicious meal. It’s not about ensuring that everyone who gathers gets along or that everyone experiences total joy. Thanksgiving is about slowing down and leaning in to life. Soak in the mess as much as you soak in the joys. Observe the arguments, idiosyncracies and even addictions of those around you with compassion. Be thankful your loved ones are alive to celebrate with you. If they’re not alive, be thankful that you are.
Life is about the mess. It’s about striving to be the best we can be, having a positive impact and learning from the struggles and mistakes of humanity. Thanksgiving day is a time to sit back, relax and take in the lessons, gifts and love of the year. Be thankful for ALL of it. Your mistakes teach you how to proceed. Your heartbreaks give you resilience. Your family dramas give you something to talk about and show you patterns to not repeat. Soak it all in. Every single thing that has happened this past year—the good, the bad and the ugly—has had a role in forming who you are today. They are all a part of your journey. They are all gifts, stepping-stones and learning experiences to this show called life. Be thankful for them.
This Thanksgiving, soak it all in. Let go of the need to throw a perfect holiday dinner or have the most ideal family or to have the day be just right. Pressuring yourself to have everything be perfect will get in the way of being thankful every time.
Appreciate your in-laws. Laugh at the crazy table conversations. Treasure the toddler meltdowns, teenage drama, and adult pontifications. Have compassion for those you love even when they drink too much, argue too loud or stay silent in the corner. Love the ones who challenge the hell out of you—they often have the most impact on your growth. Let go of expectations and simply be thankful. You deserve a great day—make it one.
Challenge: May you all have a very Happy Thanksgiving! Be kind to yourself, accepting of others and grateful for this crazy thing we call life.