What are some Strategies to Feel More Connected this Thanksgiving?
Thanksgiving is a psychologically robust holiday. We grow up and mature into adults, but the simple act of walking through the household door to join a family Thanksgiving gathering can cause a surprising surge of emotions and regression to our prior adolescent selves. That’s why Hollywood makes so many movies about Thanksgiving. Over-eating and excessive drinking can be conscious or unconscious strategies to buffer the intense feelings that close quarters with family members and a Thanksgiving feast can inspire.
Instead of stuffing yourself (pun intended) with Turkey and pumpkin pie, use the time to ask older family members meaningful questions about their lives. Asking grandparents questions about how they met, what they remember from their courtship, how they decided to marry, and if they remember their first Thanksgiving as a married couple can spur memorable discussions. If your grandparents are no longer living, ask you parents if they know the answers to these questions. You may learn surprising new details about your parents’ and grandparents’ lives. This may inspire empathy and compassion for your older relatives and may also generate a sense of thankfulness.
Speaking of thankfulness, go around the table and ask everyone to share something they feel thankful for as your mark the holiday together. Even if your pissed you’re your brother-in-law voted for Trump and you wish your Aunt would stop hogging the conversation, connecting the Thanksgiving table through a shared reminder of what the holiday is all about can make the conversation more engaged and instills the holiday with a shared sense of meaning.