What is the most important thing about Thanksgiving to you? Is it the turkey and garlic mashed potatoes? The connection with your family and friends? The cool autumn day and being in nature? A day off to relax without the pressure of gift giving?
What makes a celebration intimate? I’m referring to the feelings of connection and warmth you feel when in close proximity to people who feel safe, who have your back.
Being with people who get you and are FOR you calms your nervous system. You feel the release of nervous tension viscerally in your body. It feels like taking a deep sigh, “Ahhhhh…..
Below are a few ideas how you can create such an intimate atmosphere on Thanksgiving Day, which depends only on your willingness to do so, not on anyone else and how they behave. That’s good news, isn’t it?
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Morning Rituals: Setting the Tone for Heartfelt Connection
Start your day with some sort of grounding and centering activity. Maybe that’s a brisk walk with your dog or by yourself out in nature. Perhaps you enjoy meditating by a fireplace (or a pretend one on youtube).
Recommendation if you’re not sure what to do:
Light a candle, put on some soft music, and find a pretty journal. Let your family know you want a ½ hour all to yourself. It’s okay to lock the door.
Do you have some inspiring literature to center yourself? Some people read a few pages of the Bible. I have several books that have daily readings in them. One is called Healing After Loss. Another is Meditations for Women Who Do Too Much.
Find a piece of literature that feels good to you and spend 5 minutes taking it in.
Ask yourself this question and then write for a few minutes about it. “How can I feel at peace today with myself and my life exactly as it is?” Notice what comes up for you. Then set an intention: I intend to seek peace and authentic connection today.
Creating a Warm and Welcoming Environment
Wouldn’t it be cool to put people’s revved up nervous systems at ease? I’ve always loved to nest and create a warm, welcoming environment.
Tidy up your place as best you can. Sometimes removing clutter goes a long way to making a pleasing atmosphere. You don’t have to be perfectionist here or have a huge space.
Muster up gratitude for your space even though it may not be your dream home.
To beautify your environment, consider putting some pieces from nature, like pumpkins, gourds, pine cone wreaths, sprays of pine needles, decorative corn, etc.
I love displaying Thanksgiving decorations I’ve collected over the years, such as pilgrims, turkeys and other ceramics that say Thankful or Grateful, etc.
Burn some of your favorite incense and candles and/or diffuse some of your favorite essential oils, like pine, frankincense, patchouli, etc.
I enjoy putting a Fall Ambience youtube channel on my flat screen TV. If you’re fortunate enough to have a fireplace and the right weather for it, I’d be lighting that sucker up too. If not, search for “fireplace” on youtube, and that works as a nifty substitute.
The Guest List
Who shall you invite? This can be tricky. Perhaps you’re used to hosting Thanksgiving every year, and so you’ll be inviting your usual family members and friends.
You may have folks on your list who trigger you to judge them and bring out fear, anger, frustration, jealousy, guilt, etc. What if you make peace with this by saying, “Today I let them be them and me be me. I let go of expectations that they should be replicas of me. I respect that they have different values. I don’t have the cornerstone on being right. I can have my beliefs without making them wrong.”
By doing that morning centering routine, you’ll be more grounded in who you are, and they won’t disturb your serenity nearly as much.
Invite who you like and really enjoy being around.
Nature Walks: Connecting with the Beauty of Late Fall
One of my favorite things to do on Thanksgiving Day after the meal in the afternoon is to walk out to the pasture and feed Lady, my mom’s horse. Typically the sun is setting, and it’s very serene. It feels good to walk and help my food digest. My mom has a barn cat, Pebbles, that stays with Lady. It’s comforting to be around animals.
Is there someplace you can walk outdoors or even take a hike? Smell the fresh autumn air. It can be a ½ hour walk. Even if you’re in the city, you could find a park. Going barefoot might be harder to do with the cooler weather coming on, but putting your bare foot on the ground and imagining an invisible pole coming through your head and anchoring you to the center of the earth is very grounding.
Sharing Stories of Gratitude: A Dinner Table Tradition
What about starting a tradition of each person around the dinner table sharing something he or she is grateful for? It changes the focus and really raises the mood, if things have felt tough lately.
Further, by sharing stories of past loved ones, it honors the people who have gone before you. Laughter and stories (could be of those still living) creates bonds and special memories. These types of intimate moments will be remembered for a long time because they create special connections.
It’s so easy to get wrapped up in TV and the football games and parades, which does create a certain kind of connection and is fine to do, but what if you ADDED some meaningful conversation to the mix?
Holding the Spirit of Thanksgiving Beyond the Holiday
Be mindful of your guest list. Invite people you enjoy hanging out with. If you have difficult family members, what if you just gave them a break today and accepted them as they are? Relax your judgments of them and yourself.
If you have the opportunity, try to get out in nature. It can be very healing for your nerves and give you feelings of safety.
If you are open to starting a new tradition, start a conversation with one or even a few people around the dinner table. Ask them what they are grateful for, or if they have any favorite stories of loved ones they’d like to share.
Having an intimate connection with yourself and those you love makes this life worth living. I encourage you to hold the spirit of Thanksgiving beyond this day.
I’m taking 5 new private clients now through the end of the year. Schedule a time to chat and claim your spot so you can create this intimate connection with yourself and hence with others.