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Creating a Meaningful Thanksgiving

By Belinda Pianezza

Hosting Thanksgiving dinner can be challenging. Every year you make the same dishes and follow the same routine. It doesn’t have to be the same year after year. This year, why not consider making everything old, new again.

Try hosting a re-make of the original celebration. The tradition of Thanksgiving dates back to the 1600s when the Pilgrims arrived at Plymouth. They took part in an autumn harvest celebration with the Wampanoag Aboriginals. Historians believe this was the first Thanksgiving. Clearly there isn’t anyone that can share the menu from the first feast, but it is believed that Turkey may have played a part. The large fowl was plentiful in the Plymouth region and would have been a common meal. Birds of a feather do stick together and there were other tasty birds in the area that also could have been served. Ducks, geese and even swans were common dishes during the time. The diners would have also enjoyed many fruits and vegetables with their meal including beans, spinach, cabbage, carrots and corn. For dessert, pumpkin pie was a good possibility.

Serving the traditional dishes may not be a deviation from your usual feast, so spice it up with a little colour. Have some fun with the holiday and dress up in period clothing. A Thanksgiving Day costume party may be a nice change to your traditional celebration.

Try as they might, there are always some family members who cannot make it to the annual Thanksgiving Day feast. Every year they miss the delicious food and the family fun. They may not be able to be there in person, but that does not mean you have to leave them out. Invite those loved ones that live far away to attend the celebrations virtually. Set up a computer and a virtual connection to those who cannot make it. It will give those who are at the dinner a chance to have a visit with their distant relatives. It will also make the remote family member feel like they were a part of the day.

While thinking about other family members, take a moment to consider those people in your community who may not have family to visit at all. Consider adding a spot at the dinner table for a friend or neighbour who may be alone for the holiday. Set aside time during the celebration to help out at a community centre. There are many locations that serve dinner to those who are less fortunate. Make it a family tradition to spend part of the day helping others. Make plans ahead of Thanksgiving to take a family trip to a food bank. There is always a lot of food that needs sorting and food banks need all the help they can get. Don’t forget to arrive with a bag of non-perishable food to share.