It seems Thanksgiving may never be the same as we continually see the domino effect of major department stores opening one day early before Black Friday. While many of us see that as a threat to the meaning and stability of Thanksgiving, the only way to combat that is to find ways to keep family members at home on Turkey Day. For some families that don’t get along, having them going out to shop might be a godsend. Regardless, enough families exist out there that do get along well and may be ruining communal opportunity by making Thanksgiving shopping a priority.
You might want to consider doing these four things to help keep your family in your house for Thanksgiving. While they may not work for every family, they provide an opportunity to get everyone on the same page, provide a good time and rival everyone ambling through a mall.
Playing Music Together
I once wrote a piece about the power of family members playing or singing music to forge a peaceful Thanksgiving. It’s no different now in keeping beloved family members from heading out the door to shop. Many families don’t realize the value of being around one another, and it can hit a person hard if a beloved family member passes away later. There’s nothing that gives a better sense of connection than sitting around a piano and playing music together.
While not every family is going to be musical, almost every family will have at least one member who knows how to play basic piano or guitar. After dinner, play a round of songs from different eras to accommodate the different generations visiting for Thanksgiving. Let everyone sing along in unison, or let the family members familiar with the songs sing solo.
If the kids want to teach the grandparents how to rap, you have some real entertainment cut out for you.
Rather than sitting and watching football, you might want to consider playing your own game of football outside before dinner. It’s more than possible to have it warmer outside in certain U.S. climates, even if early darkness this time of year prevents playing after dinner. In that regard, everyone going outside for a group walk afterward can keep the family active to prevent family members from falling asleep around the house due to overeating and overabundance of tryptophan.
With the air cooler this time of year, doing an extensive walk can keep everyone active and burn calories besides. Bringing up family stories while you do the group walk can also incite some laughs that always help break the ice. In fact, the more comedy and funny stories that can be brought up, the better.
If you’re in a crowded neighborhood, the sound of laughter as you’re all outside can prove to neighbors that you have no Thanksgiving dysfunction.
Creating a Community Meal
One way to get your family involved in something different is to have them participate in a community meal that you can spearhead. This allows those less fortunate from your community to join you in your household for Thanksgiving dinner. Doing this allows the conversation to turn to learning about your new guests rather than letting any political conversations in the family ruin the evening. You get the best of all worlds having your family there and involved in helping those who can’t afford to have a meaningful Thanksgiving.
As part of this process, have your family bring their own dishes to contribute. This alone can bring plenty of discussion in the kitchen when guests first arrive and throughout the evening.
Participating in Acts of Thankfulness
It’s easy to take Thanksgiving for granted, eat heartily, and then pass it off as another year. Setting aside time for all of the family to sit down and say what they’re truly thankful for can incite more peaceful conversation than anything else. One way this can be done is to have everyone write down something they’re thankful for and place them in a box when they first arrive. After dinner, these can all be read. You can put money down that some emotions are going to flow during these moments, especially if something emotional happened in the lives of a family member.
Something as simple as this procedure can bring real meaning to Thanksgiving to steer away from the temptation of going to buy another half-priced HDTV.
Even if some of the family members leave to do some shopping later, hearing their affirmations of thankfulness beforehand at least gives you faith in knowing they won’t be shopping gluttons.