Let's Talk Turkey! How to Carve Out a More Joyful Thanksgiving

By Marilynn Preston

November 13, 2018 6 min read

I'm still giving thanks that the 2018 election is over, knowing how well the party of Well-Being did, a nonpartisan, nontoxic movement of conscious Americans who want to live healthier, happier lives.

All across the country, our fellow citizens stood in line to vote in more females; more diversity; more politicians who won by listening, not lecturing; and more elected officials working to improve the Affordable Care Act, not kill it with a Glock 45.

Transition and change: That's what elections are all about. And if you're hungry to transition to a less stressful, more meaningful way to celebrate your Thanksgiving holiday, I have some ideas to share:

—FIRST, A GUT CHECK. How do you know if Thanksgiving adds to your stress? Listen to your gut, seat of great wisdom. If thinking about Turkey Day makes you feel anxious instead of enthusiastic, something is wrong.

Maybe you feel the pressure to do everything perfectly. (I call that Martha Stewart syndrome.) Maybe you'd rather be a guest than a host. Sit calmly and meditate on where the stress is coming from. Write down your insights, without judging, without censoring.

—TAKE ACTION. Once you've identified the stressors, have the courage to take action. It might begin with your guest list. If you can eliminate toxic people from your table, do. If you're absolutely stuck with guests who are mean-spirited and troublemakers, see Thanksgiving as an opportunity to practice acceptance, kindness and compassion. Be thankful you are evolved enough to handle their pathology.

—SET YOUR INTENTION. Start your Thanksgiving Day by setting an intention. You can do it standing or sitting, lighting a candle or taking a walk.

Focus inward and contemplate the deeper meanings of the day: gratitude, love and appreciation of family and friends. Promise yourself that when negative emotions arise — and they will, say, when Uncle Bob starts explaining that Obamacare is a socialist plot to overthrow free markets — you will smile and be nonreactive. Accept the day as it unfolds. If you feel yourself losing it, stop and take a few deep breaths.

And don't forget the health benefits of red wine.

—BE A CONSCIOUS COOK. This year, ban the Butterball and buy a free-range turkey raised on organic feed and Mozart sonatas. Thanksgiving is a symbolic meal, and your typical farm-factory turkey — loaded with chemicals, hormones and antibiotics — represents all that is wrong with America's addiction to fake, tortured food.

To symbolize your commitment to eating purer, unprocessed foods, bring only real food to your Thanksgiving table: fresh vegetables, yummy fruits, wholesome grains and imaginative side dishes with seasonal ingredients. Don't explain, don't apologize, but do keep a few deep-dish pecan pies nearby, in case you sense a rebellion.

And to relieve the stress of doing it all yourself, think of Thanksgiving as a team sport. Ask for help with cooking, serving and cleaning up — men and children first.

—CREATE A RITUAL. Thanksgiving didn't start out as a holiday to celebrate acid reflux and college football. When the pilgrims and Native Americans sat down together, they were sharing a meal as a way to develop harmony and trust.

This year, do your part to establish a stress-free zone in the house: no cellphones, no small screens, no arguments.

Just before the meal, clink a glass, ask for quiet, light a candle — maybe pass it around — inviting everyone at the table to say for whom or what they're grateful.

I know it sounds corny and nearly impossible to pull off, but go for it. Feel the mood in the room shift. This is what trust and harmony feels like.

—EXERCISE! No matter how busy you are, take at least 30 to 60 minutes to exercise before the day takes hold. Chopping and peeling don't count. Take a walk, dance to Lady Gaga or get the yoga flow going. You'll ease stress, burn calories and boost your resolve to make this a day of celebration.

—DO SOMETHING CHARITABLE. A foolproof way to feel good is to do good. Make a double portion of your best holiday dish and take it to a homeless shelter, write a check to a favorite nonprofit or open your table to someone who has nowhere else to go. Generosity, like maple-glazed sweet potatoes, is a great thing to pass around.

ENERGY EXPRESS-O! SWEETER THAN PECAN PIE

"If the only prayer you ever say in your entire life is 'Thank you,' it will be enough." — Meister Eckhart

Marilynn Preston is the author of "Energy Express," America's longest-running healthy lifestyle column. Her new book "All Is Well: The Art {and Science} of Personal Well-Being" is available now on Amazon and elsewhere. Visit Creators Publishing at creators.com/books/all-is-well to learn more. For more on personal well-being, visit www.MarilynnPreston.com.

Photo credit: at Pixabay

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