The Most Important Dish on Your Thanksgiving Table

 In Family, Family relationships, Family Values, Holidays, Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving meal ranks at the top of my list of family gatherings. Let’s face it–we Americans love our turkey! Over the years, we have concocted several ways to cook the bird: baked, braised, grilled, smoked, deep fried, beer can roasted, slow roasted spitfire, or spatchcocked.

I love just about every dish on the Thanksgiving table except for cranberries and sweet potatoes. I remember one year when we were driving to my relatives for the annual Thanksgiving dinner and my brother Jim accidently spilled the sweet potato dish in the backseat of the car. In fact, it was all over his lap! To say the least, my parents were not happy. As for me, I felt like my big brother took one for me.

I’m sure you have funny stories and treasured memories of this special holiday. What I like about Thanksgiving Day most is how it brings family members together around a dinner table on a day set aside to give thanks. I also wonder how many families actually take time to express what they are thankful for.

Several years ago we added a dish to our Thanksgiving table which has become a tradition. It is a dish young and old share with each other one at a time. The dish is called “thankfulness”.

After dinner, dessert is served and this is when we dish out thankfulness. In no particular order, every person in the room will share what they are thankful for this year. Imagine four generations of family members, from little kids to my 81 year-old mother expressing gratitude. It is both powerful and heartwarming.

Thankfulness is the most important dish we share on Thanksgiving Day. Here are four reasons why you may want to add this dish to your banquet table.

It helps you to focus on the good things in life and lessons learned

Taking time to reflect on what you are thankful for shifts the mind from a stressful, negative, “why can’t things be better” attitude to a positive perspective. You will likely find you have many things for which to be thankful.

Lately I have been annoyed by a series of stressors (mostly minor) that have left me feeling frustrated. I realized I was giving way too much airtime to these pestie problems. So, I decided to reflect on and give thanks for the good things in my life. It has helped immensely! My stress level decreased and my attitude is more positive.

In anticipation of Thanksgiving Day, think about the good things in your life. What lessons did you learn this year? What are you thankful for that you would like to dish out this year to others?

It helps you understand and appreciate what others are experiencing

More often in families people talk about things on the surface: movies or TV shows, sports, cooking tips, shopping, restaurants, vacation trips, etc… For whatever reason, families spend less time talking about personal issues. Yet, taking time during dinner to express thankfulness allows others to understand and appreciate what you’re learning.

In our family, gratitude sometimes comes out of a trial or difficult experience. We have suffered the loss of family members who died early in life. Others have faced health problems or relationship hardship. When you hear people share their stories, lessons learned, and gratitude in the midst of suffering, it gives you a deeper appreciation and respect for them.

Expressing gratitude does not require you to go deep. It can be something small yet meaningful you learned. I like to be reminded to be thankful for the simple things in life too. In our family sometimes thankfulness is expressed with humor that has everyone laughing!

It brings families together in a more caring and supportive way

When people open up it draws others in more closely. Isn’t this what a family Thanksgiving dinner is meant to do? Thankfulness sets a caring and supportive tone at the dinner table.

One of things I enjoy is seeing family members encourage and support each other after we dish out thankfulness. Validation from family members always follows. It usually comes in the form of encouraging words and hugs. The atmosphere is buzzing with love, laughter, and happiness.

It strengthens the bonds in the family

When you dish out thankfulness it will strengthen the bond in your family. Do you ever wonder if people in your family appreciate you? If so, you are not alone. I hear this a lot. Truth be told, I have felt that way before too!

One of the most powerful moments in our family is when a family member looks at another and surprises them by saying how thankful they are for that person. It is really special when a challenging teenager says in front of all the relatives how much he/she appreciate his/her parents. Moments like that cut right through to the heart and heal hurts.

Adding the dish of thankfulness to our banquet table has been truly remarkable. It has strengthened the bonds in our family in ways we did not expect. Four generations now exist in our family. The little ones are learning this tradition.

It is the favorite dish on our table.

Now It’s Your Turn

Do you have a Thanksgiving tradition that you do in your family? If so, I’d love to hear it. You can comment below or leave it on one of my social media sites.

Maybe this blog has sparked an idea or two in your mind. If your family is more reserved, perhaps you can do a slightly different version. Here’s an example: “In one sentence, share one thing you are thankful for this year.”

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