6:45 PM EST, November 15, 2012
It is hard to believe that next Thursday is Thanksgiving. The holiday season is upon us once again.
Sometimes life flies by so quickly that it becomes easy to lose focus of what is truly important. The things that mean the most to us aren't really things at all.
Relationships, conversations, experiences and memories matter the most, but are those the areas where we spend and invest most of our time and energy? Probably not.
The holidays are a great time to regroup, relax and realize what we need to do to make our priorities evident.
Family dinners, outings and visits provide ample opportunities to converse. After all, most memories begin with small talk.
Prepare in advance, and you'll be surprised at the nuggets you'll uncover.
For the host/hostess:
As guests arrive, ask them to write their names on top of index cards. Have each guest draw a card and list one positive thing about the person listed on the card. If the guests don't know each other, encourage them to find out something unusual that can be shared with the group.
Make a thankfulness tree out of construction paper. Give guests a construction paper leaf and ask them to list the thing/person/idea for which they are most thankful. Display the tree during dinner. After the meal, have each person share what they wrote and why.
Encourage those with musical talents to bring their instruments and share their talents with others. Have guests tell a few things they like about music: Favorite song, favorite recording artist, favorite instrument, etc.
Break out some board games to have available for guests to play ... or just for reminiscing.
Start a family holiday journal. Ask family members to share one thing that has caused happiness this year and why it affected them. Also, ask them to share one thing they'd like to change about their lives by this time next year and why they'd like to change it. Break out the journal at the next holiday so family members can remember what was on their hearts at the previous holiday.
For the guest:
Follow the host's lead. Be a good sport and go along with what has been planned for the holiday. It might be a lot of fun.
When a conversation is heading a direction you don't want to go, try a little silence. Getting in the last word is rarely worth the tension that can build at family gatherings. You know which buttons to avoid. Don't push them.
Don't be introspective. Focus on another person. Does someone look lonely? Frustrated? Tired? Reach out to that person.
In doing so, you will make Thanksgiving truly a holiday of gratitude.
Lisa Tedrick Prejean writes a weekly column for The Herald-Mail's Family page. Send email to her at email@example.com.
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