Three ways to make Thanksgiving more thoughtful

Ever since Abraham Lincoln declared Thanksgiving a national holiday in 1863, most Americans have been celebrating by toasting and feasting with family or friends. As its name suggests, the holiday is a time when all should reflect and give thanks, but through the years this message has been lost on mass consumption, football watching, and early shopping. But here are a few new traditions designed to reintroduce a more thoughtful way to enjoy the day.

Chew on this
Turkey is the focus of most Thanksgiving dinners—even though most historians agree it’s unlikely the bird was actually eaten by the Pilgrims and Native Americans in 1621. Today, more than 45 million turkeys are killed each year at Thanksgiving. But you can have a humane holiday by serving tofurkey which looks like a loaf of turkey yet is actually a meat substitute of vegetarian protein made from tofu (soy protein) or seitan (wheat protein). This delicious and easy-to-prepare dish can be homemade or ready-made to be baked or oven-roasted so it’s nice to turkeys—and to the chef.

Drop the shopping
Once upon a time, retail stores were closed on Thanksgiving. It wasn’t until the last part of the last century when they started opening at very late (or early) hours to kickstart Black Friday sales. While 45% of Americans plan on doing some holiday shopping on Thanksgiving Day this year, almost 60% said they do not approve of stores being open. If you agree, you may want to show your appreciation to the stores that refuse to open on the holiday by giving them your business on Black Friday. According to Forbes, ThinkProgress, and Mental Floss, these stores include BJ’s, Burlington Coat Factory, Coscto, Dillard’s, DSW, GameStop, Home Depot, Lowe’s, Marshall’s, Nordstrom, PetCo, Sam’s Club, and T.J. Maxx.

A great way to be grateful
Often families share a blessing or toast before their Thanksgiving meal. Some parties go around the table and have each member verbalize their gratitude. This is a wonderful practice if no one in the family is shy. But many people get tongue-tied or teary-eyed when reflecting on their blessings in front of others, even though it is something they’d like to share. An inventive way to keep this tradition alive is to paint a wall in the living, dining or family room with clear Writeyboard paint. Then hand out dry-erase markers so everyone can write down what they’re thankful for on the wall! In addition to being considerate of those who suffer from stage fright, this gives everyone something to do that’s more in keeping with the holiday spirit and more active than merely watching football. Instead of falling asleep after dinner, have everyone read the wall together. You may even want to take family photos or personal selfies in front of the wall to commemorate your special holiday. Of course, once the guests have gone and you’re back into everyday life you can simply erase the message without much fuss, which is another thing to be grateful for.

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