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Typical T-Day: The Thanksgiving dinner table gets a bad rap for serving up thousands of calories (and family fights), but the simple act of sitting down as a family offers endless emotional benefits. "There is something absolutely wonderful woven into breaking bread together as a family," says family therapist Carleton Kendrick, EdM, LCSW, author of Take Out Your Nose Ring, Honey, We're Going to Grandma's. "You praise the cook, the kids get a chance to participate by setting the table or stirring the mashed potatoes. People get the chance to feel important in that they're bringing some joy to people they love." That said, it can be challenging to sit down and reflect when your attention is sucked up by demanding guests, endless cooking, and other holiday stressors.
Tradition makeover: Make sure you're not missing the bonding blessings (so easy to do if you're the hostess). When you sit down (finally) for your big meal, live in the moment. "Start with being grateful for the basics," encourages psychologist Susan Albers, author of 50 Ways to Soothe Yourself Without Food. "Look around. Feel your back against the chair and your feet touching the floor." Tap into all five senses to slow down the rush-rush of the holiday and surround yourself and your loved ones with gratitude: Smell the butternut squash roasting. Look at how scrumptious the turkey looks. Listen to the happy chatter of your guests. Sip some wine and let the pinot linger on your palate. Hug your kids.