Friday, November 17, 2017

How to Create Meaningful Moments for Everyone on Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving has always been a big deal in our house.

It's the one holiday that's always hosted at the cozy, little home my parents have lived in for over fifty years. And each year my Mom starts thinking about her Thanksgiving table weeks ahead. The color theme, the flowers, the table settings and yes, games too because Mom is a "game person." 

 As the only daughter, I'm considered my Mom's personal stylist/floral designer and we always plan her pretty table details together. It's been like this since I was in high school.

But one thing has never changed.

Over the years my Mom has always insisted on including a  fun activity that gets everyone interacting. No stuffing your face and instant snoring on her day--at least not until everyone joins in for "one of Mimi's games".

Over the years we've had trivia games (using holiday theme words)  modified game shows or a version of Charades. There are always teams--(usually girls vs. guys) and my Mom has little prizes. And because we're a loud, competitive bunch--it ends up being one hilarious expose of our quirky personalities. 

Yep, it's true we've got our share of bizarre political views, the 'crazy uncle,' and the tipsy relative...but somehow everything gets put aside when you're laughing together.
Have you noticed this too?

In other words my Mom's focus on 'doing something together' helps us bond.

 The Gratitude Question

This year we're trying something new and it's an idea I'm love with because its a chance to be a little real with each other.

Enclosed inside each glassine envelope is a single question about gratitude. But here's what's different; it's not a question asking for your general thoughts about gratitude... no, it's a question that is focused on the people sitting around the table. Right there in front of you.

If you opened one of these envelopes you might find:

  •  A question that asks you to share a favorite (or funny) memory of someone across from you.
  •  A question that asks you to share something you appreciate about the person on your right. 
  • A question that asks you to name a quality you appreciate in the person on your left
Here's the point of these little questions.

Intellectually we know Thanksgiving is a holiday about gratitude, in fact it's become quite a trendy word in our culture today. We see everywhere. But the challenge for us is, how do we transform these lofty concepts into something that feels meaningful and personal  to us?

The answer is....well, we get personal.

And we do this with the very people in front of us at this moment.

Isn't this why we spend so many hours decorating our tables, pouring over recipes, waiting in grocery lines, and cooking our favorite dishes?

It's about the people.

Even if it's only a few genuine words, a spontaneous story or a unexpected compliment, these are the kind of moments that we remember long after the dishes are put away.

This is how we experience the true meaning of Thanksgiving.

When I get to my Mom's house we'll set the table and decide where we'll put these little envelopes. It's easy to tuck a sprig of fresh rosemary or pressed leaf into the string at the last minute.

In the meantime I decided to set a quick table to show you how pretty these envelopes look. Right now we're thinking we'll open them once everyone is finished eating but still sitting at the table, maybe before dessert and coffee.

And later we'll be trying our first "white elephant" game too.

 Well, I sure hope I gave you something to think about today.

Whatever you've got planned for your holiday--I know it will be wonderful because you will be part of it.

Happy Thanksgiving to all my friends who are reading this post right now. Please know, I am incredibly grateful for every visitor to my little blog. ..I consider you one of my special blessings.


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  1. Such a fabulous post and I love the new game you have come up with. We don't celebrate Thanksgiving here in the UK but I have always wished we had. You are so right that the word "gratitude" has become a bit of a trend of late. But actually thinking sincerely about the people we are grateful for is such a lovely way to get down to the real spirit of Thanksgiving.
    Have a lovely one Leslie. Despite us not celebrating it here in the UK I am grateful that our paths have crossed xx

    1. Oh Van I feel the same way about you ...I'm so grateful for our friendship and I like to think that someday we'll meet in person!

  2. Seeing Vannessa’s comment reminded me... When my older daughter moved to the UK as a college sophomore, she cooked Thanksgiving dinner in the dorm kitchen, introducing the American treats of this season to her new friends.Long after graduation—for the next six years until she returned to the States—they celebrated Thanksgiving together. Many still call her on Thanksgiving to reminisce. This year David and I will be in Denver with her for our first Thanksgiving together in 14 years! We’re really looking forward to it! I wonder if she’d be willing to play any games. :-) I love your Mom’s festive spirit, and I especially love that the two of you create your tablescape together. The little question-filled envelopes are a great idea for focusing on *real* relationships and the people right in front of you. Praying it’s a wonderfully successful “experiment”. Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!

    1. What a great story about your daughter, and I love hearing how life has circled around for you. Having thanksgiving with your daughter. How wonderful, happy Thanksgiving dear friend.

  3. Such a wonderful idea! Thank you for sharing it! It's a great way to bless and encourage those around our table. I love your pumpkin "vase" and flower arrangement---absolutely beautiful!

  4. Leslie, I like this idea and am sharing it with a friend. Your pumpkin centerpiece is gorgeous as is your table.
    Happy Thanksgiving!

    1. Thanks Sarah, you always offer such uplifting words, Wishing you a beautiful Thanksgiving holiday!

  5. What a fun Thanksgiving you must enjoy each year. Its clear the apple (you) doesnt fall too far from the tree (your mom). 😃

  6. I love your idea!

    Have you ever seen Table Topics card sets? I bought a set and we used it at dinner every night until we went through all the cards and then passed it on to a friend who was intrigued by the game.

    I remembered a lot of the questions and I made my own card sets and reuse them over and over again when we have guests. We're amazed to learn new things about friends we have known for ever.

    The last dinner party I had I had a quote at each person's place setting. They had to read the quote allowed and talk about how the quote applied to them. One guest asked if he could take his quote home and I see that he still has it hanging in his home office.

    Now you have inspired me to have a dinner party.

  7. How lovely, Leslie! Such a special, uplifting activity...and I love that you and your mother plan it together. Wishing you a beautiful Thanksgiving with your family!

  8. Happy Thanksgiving Leslie,
    I love the idea.
    We have done Table Talk for the past few years. That is a lot of fun too. You are right we have a mix of personalities in our family too. I think your idea would really melt some of the harder hearts that have formed in past years.
    xx oo

    Thank you for sharing,

  9. What a wonderful and beautiful idea! Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family.

  10. So beautiful and intentional and heartful. I'm sure there was some emotion at that dinner table. Thanks for encouraging us to start new traditions, building on the old. Peace to you. xox

  11. Wonderful idea....going to do this!
    I'm a game lover too.
    Sending love for a peaceful festive season XX

  12. Wonderful idea....going to do this!
    I'm a game lover too.
    Sending love for a peaceful festive season XX