• Nancy Samardzic

Thanksgiving 2020: A Different Kind of Celebration

As I talked about in my previous blog, Thanksgiving 2020 might look just a little bit different compared to other years (not sure if that is a good or a bad thing yet). I shared a few things that I did to help myself through my first holiday season by myself.


I wanted to circle back and share some ideas on how you can still celebrate Thanksgiving this year and still have a great time (hold off on committing to the decision that you can’t celebrate since things are different - because you can and should!).


5 Tips for Celebrating in 2020


1. Set boundaries and stick to them


Don’t be afraid to set boundaries and stick to them. If your family and friends are planning the usual large (and overcrowded) dinner, you can decline the invite. Just be honest and polite with your RSVP. Stay consistent with declining so if you tell your family no please don’t post pictures of you at a friend’s festive dinner. You don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings.


Dr. Beth here. Yes! Boundaries! Setting and maintaining boundaries is a common topic that I address in therapy. Saying no can be really difficult when you are experiencing worries about hurting someone's feelings or even when you're feeling conflicted. On one hand you miss your family and friends and want a bit of normalcy and on the other hand you know the guidance about gathering with those outside of your home. One way to set a boundary is identify what you want and communicate it directly. Then if someone is pushing you to reconsider, repeat your boundary again. No need to get into a back and forth. You've already made up your mind.


2. Cook together - virtually!


Do you have a favorite dish you love to eat but aren’t sure how to make it? Consider cooking together virtually. Technology makes video calling easy and convenient. Doing this will help you and your family feel connected even if you can’t be in the same room or even city. You can share tips and tricks (even embarrassing stories! My family loves to bring up the time I burned marshmallows in the oven and then spent forever scraping them out of the pan). Bonus, maybe you will finally get to see the secret ingredient in the mashed potatoes or stuffing.



3. Get fancy!


Dress up in your holiday best. Even if it is just at home, don’t skimp on dressing up in your favorite holiday clothes! It will put you in the festive mood and cheer you up (don’t get me wrong….I love wearing pajamas around my house as much as the next person but not this occasion!)


4. Create a gratitude list


Being grateful for what you have will help you focus on the positive and not the negative. While 2020 has not been the best year, I bet if you take a moment to reflect you will come up with at least a few good things that have happened. Take the time to think about 2020 and jot down the positive and for what you are grateful. Focusing on these things will help shift your mindset and prepare to celebrate the holiday.


Dr. Beth again. Gratitude is the act of noticing and appreciating what you have. Noticing the good things, no matter how small. When we experience the feeling of being thankful, positive emotions follow. Research shows that engaging in a consistent gratitude practice will improve mood and mental health and have a lasting impact. Appreciate what you have. Make a list, write it in your journal, or say it aloud daily. All changes take time to produce desired results - don't give up!


5. Dinner at a distance


Consider hosting or attending a socially distanced gathering. (I know, I know!) Social distancing is not everyone’s favorite activity anymore but don’t let it stop you from having a good time. If you have the room and weather permitting, have the celebration outside. I have seen lots of families having events outside where tables are placed far apart but people are still talking and enjoying themselves. Socially distanced gatherings don’t automatically have to equal boring. Be creative in how you decorate the space and set up the tables and chairs. I would even plan to play socially distant games or activities.


The holidays are all about families and spending time together. Although 2020 is presenting unique challenges, it is not impossible to celebrate. Use technology to connect with each other. Plan socially distanced events that are small in number but just as rich in food and company. You can still practice your family traditions (just a touch of altering). I will be calling and video chatting my family and practicing my cooking skills.



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