When I grew up, (yes, I’m going to sound like my parents here for a second), we looked forward to Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter and other holidays with excitement. Thanksgiving and Christmas were typically spent with my mother’s brother and his family. We would gather and eat great food, some would watch football, others would play pool, etc. What I came to know as a “normal” holiday.
Looking back now, with the public debate about shopping on Thanksgiving Day, I’m mostly present to the quiet. No one was doing, no one was hurrying, and no one was rushing. Sure, people drove to their destination but out of excitement, not hurry, not rush, not out of burden. It was quiet. The streets were quiet, the highways were quiet, and the stores were quiet. Everyone was inside. It was a time of reflection, a time of community, a time of peace. People did not just “fit the holiday in”, they looked forward to it, it was something to celebrate, not a distraction from their trip to Walmart.
Today it seems those moments are being stolen from us, from our children and young people. I encourage you, steal them back! Spend time on Thursday with your family and friends. Stay inside, play cards, watch a football game, laugh, cry, hug but stay out of the stores. Stay away from the fluorescent lights, the flashing sales signs, the deals of the century because all of that is robbing us of what’s truly important – a little bit of quiet just every once in a while.
Here’s a little game to help keep you and your guests present to the joy of the day. Our phones take us away from the present and create noise which steals our moment. Place a basket by the door. Ask all guests to please place their cell phone in the basket. Schedule 5 minutes at the beginning of every hour where people can look at their phones and get their fix. Have a prize for the person who goes the longest without looking at their phone. If you really want to be bold, tell your guests that you will donate $100 to the local food pantry for Christmas IF EVERYONE leaves their phone untouched for the entire day. Play with the idea. Have fun with it. See if you can enroll everyone in being present to the joy and gifts of Thanksgiving without the distraction of the phone. Warning: adolescents might overreact – you will need to explain it’s a game to create relatedness and connection between family and guests. You’ll need to make sure they understand that they won’t die.
Happy Thanksgiving my friends!