I no longer have immediate family, and since 2019, my holidays have looked very different. I fortunately have the love of friends who have become family, for which I am grateful. I am also aware of folks for whom spending time with family isn’t safe, or causes a big strain on mental health. It could also be that you are simply misunderstood at home. I encourage you to think about a Friendsgiving where you celebrate the day as you and your friends would have it (and for those who also have a family Thanksgiving, it’s a double feast!). The beauty of this is that it doesn’t need to be on Thanksgiving day. But are your friends annoying? Are you an introvert? Are you tired of cooking lavish dishes and your friends bring bags of chips to the potluck? It is totally ok to cook yourself a delicious meal (or even go all out banquet-style, or you know, takeout), leave the cleanup for another time, and have a glass of wine in front of a binge watch of Parks and Rec before falling asleep on your couch. We are all thankful in different ways.
2. It’s ok to start Christmasing
Every year there’s a holiday culture war. And I’m not talking what Starbucks puts or doesn’t put on their holiday cups, and I’m not talking about saying “Merry Christmas” instead of “Happy Holidays.” I’m talking about the appropriate time to break out your Christmas gear.. Every year I hear people holler online and in public about how “It’s not even Thanksgiving yet!” Let me tell you, I hear you. For some of us, 30-ish days to celebrate a big exciting holiday simply isn’t enough. This time goes by fast. If you’ve had a rough year and feel like celebrating now, if you put up snowflakes on your house as soon as the weather turned brisk, if you have Christmas radio playing in your home, you are ok and you are loved. And you’re probably really happy about it. Don’t listen to the haters
3. The Holy Spirit showing up
One of the things I’ve discovered as of late is the “showing up” of the Holy Spirit, and how thankful I am for that. When I’m frustrated at the way things are turning out, or convince myself that nothing meaningful has happened, the Holy Spirit works whether I asked them to or not. This teaches me a lesson in how not everything is dependent on me, whether I do this or that, and whether or not I do it “correctly,” whatever that means. Bidden or unbidden, the Holy Spirit is present.
4. Giving Tuesday
The Tuesday after Thanksgiving is known as Giving Tuesday. Recently in my executive leadership program at Princeton Theological Seminary, I learned that a huge majority of philanthropy in the US comes from individual donors. Your money makes a huge difference. Organizations are counting on you to give in order to help keep their mission alive. No matter what size, giving counts. Also, don’t forget that the Saturday after Thanksgiving is Small Business Saturday. If you’re wanting to shop for Christmas or buy something for yourself for surviving Thanksgiving, shop small.
5. Apple cider cookies
These cookies are delicious, especially if you set them on top of your tea or coffee mug and let the caramel get all melty. This recipe has been mocked before, as it calls for 5 packets (basically the whole box) of instant spiced apple cider mix. But be reminded, liquid apple cider alone will not get you what you want out of these cookies. As you’re giving thanks, give yourself a treat.