The act of giving thanks can help your marriage and your family.
We have a running joke in my house about our huge assortment of blowup holiday lawn ornaments. We have pumpkins, a ghost and a witch who adorn our front lawn during the Halloween season. Then, for Christmas, we have Mickey Mouse, appropriately dressed as Santa, a Christmas tree and of course, the multicolored lights, because we're classy like that.
Despite our festive spirit, our lawn sits empty every Thanksgiving. This year, I’ve been on a quasi-mission for a blow-up Tom Turkey, but haven't found one yet, which got me thinking about all of this thanking.
Thanksgiving seems to have become "Thanksmas." The day after Halloween, I was in a big-box store filled with Christmas decorations. It’s like we jumped in the Delorean and fast-forwarded right to Christmas. Despite its lack of commercial appeal, Thanksgiving and the act of giving thanks can help your marriage and your family grow closer together.
Here are six ways to get the most out of Thanksgiving this year:
1. Make a List. Write out all the things you are thankful for: things you love about your spouse, blessings you have in your life, great opportunities you had this past year, things you like about your home and things you love about your kids.
2. Volunteer as a family. Serving gives you a perspective that you wouldn't have otherwise. You get out of your comfort zone and are able to connect with others. My family spent a Thanksgiving in the rain delivering hot meals to shut-ins in New Orleans. It's a memory that we’ll never forget, and it bonded us together.
3. Make your own new traditions and ditch the old ones. My son has a magazine that suggested making a Thanksgiving pie. Like a birthday cake, you put candles on the pie and each person in the family names something they are thankful for and blows out one candle. We are going to try it this year.
4. Write a letter of thanks to someone who helped you and your family. As a family, sit down and write a "thank you" letter. I mean, actually write this letter out on paper and send it. Our postal service needs the work apparently, plus emails are impersonal and temporary. Put your thanks on paper and really communicate your gratitude.
5. Save your money and spend your time. Who is really going to remember if this year's turkey was the biggest turkey you have ever eaten? A gift's luster starts to wane as soon as it's opened, but spending time together ensures you will make memories that last a lifetime.
6. Stop reading this post and go do it. None of my advice will make makes any difference to you or your relationships if you don't do anything about it. Go do something to make a memory, or a new tradition, with someone you love. Don't just think, "Oh that’s a sweet post. Those sound like nice ideas." The only way Thanksgiving actually works is if you actually give thanks and show it in a real way.
While you go do that, I'm going to look for a blow-up turkey for our front yard.
Note: The thing about traditions is that it's OK if they are no longer relevant or have to change. When I was growing up, my family and my uncle’s family all went to my grandparents house for the holidays. Now, we're all adults and the holidays consist of 25-plus people shoved in a two-bedroom, one-bath house with a sweet older couple who feels like they were hit by "Hurricane Holidays" when everyone leaves. Needless to say, to save ourselves and our family some stress, we had to make some changes to that tradition.