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By: Dr Afiniki Akanet, author of Fortitude and Life Without Coffee (Choosing Happiness Over Stress)
Posted on: Nov 26, 2019

3 Non-Traditional Ideas for a Meaningful Thanksgiving


TCH's guest blogger, Dr. Afiniki Akanet, shares her alternative ideas for meaningful Thanksgiving celebrations

I really like the idea of Thanksgiving in November, when people can easily get carried away with ideas of what they want for Christmas in December. Even as a child in Nigeria, I always remembered this North American holiday, because it often fell on my friend’s birthday. It is good to give thanks, even when things do not seem to be perfect, and somehow you find more things to be grateful for when you begin. We should strive to make thanksgiving part of our everyday attitude, rather than just something we do once a year.

Thanksgiving is an admirable tradition as it has become more about getting together with family than about the food, especially now that people are richer and often live far away from their parents and siblings. Technology makes it easier for us to communicate daily even when we are thousands of miles apart, but nothing is better than actually seeing and hugging each other! I have never spent Thanksgiving in the States but most of us have seen the beautiful Thanksgiving turkey meals in movies, which often reminds me of a British Christmas. On this side of the Atlantic, I think Harvest Festival is the thanksgiving celebration in some churches. Many schools in England still celebrate the Harvest Festival, with families bringing food from home to be given to people in need. Thankfully, we no longer have to wait for fruits or other produce to be in season before we can eat them. These developments over time sometimes make us take certain things for granted, so it is good to be reminded that rain is not just an inconvenience, sunshine is not just for holidays and beaches, and good soil is not just for planting pretty garden flowers. Farmers need all these to produce the abundance of food we buy in supermarkets.

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As someone who has not really grown up with the November Thanksgiving traditions, here are some suggestions for this Thanksgiving/November, which I think can help us all year.

  1. Pledge to make family get-togethers an all year affair: get your diary out and make plans to visit your family at least three more times before next Thanksgiving. We are good at saying ‘We should do this again soon’, but never actually doing it. When you pencil in some dates and plans, it is more likely to happen. The joy we get from giving and bonding is priceless.
  2. Turn off the TV and be active: make an effort to go out for some exercise. A long walk with Dad, a swim with Mum, or a game of basketball with your siblings/friends will do. Less unhealthy food and more exercise is a better recipe. Traditions are meant to be improved on. What we lack
    more than food in this generation is time to really talk and to get fit. Doing this will hopefully help us with both.
  3. Embrace the long commutes: take in the sights, talk to people, enjoy the ride. We often rush around and do things because we have to, forgetting that we will never get those moments back. Enjoy travelling with your children, meeting new people and picking up your relatives. There is so much to see and appreciate when we actually look.

If you need to do something different this year in order to enjoy it - why not? Turn your phone off, be in the moment and be truly grateful.

Happy Thanksgiving!