3 Ways To Stuff Yourself Full of Love This Thanksgiving
As you lay your head on the pillow this Thanksgiving night, chances are you will do so with a full belly. As a woman, I have to say, the permission to consume, without guilt, unlimited carbs, multiple helpings and a slice of pie as a nightcap is truly something to be grateful for. And, while I have been known to eat enough stuffing to satisfy two grown men, the truth is that the fullness I have found the most satisfying for the past decade of Thanksgivings is the full heart I end my night with.
Somewhere around the age of 27, I decided to look past the pilgrims, stuffed turkeys, and football games to find what Thanksgiving really meant to me. While the food was always good, and it was nice to see relatives and friends, there always seemed to be something missing. On a day that is expressly about giving thanks, I often ended Thanksgiving Day full of stuffing but with plenty of room still left in my heart for what I think every human being could use three, four, even infinite helpings of – LOVE.
After 10+ years of experimenting with new and daring heart-filling Thanksgiving traditions, I am happy to say that my heart has not gone hungry since. Following are three of my favorite ways to stuff myself with LOVE on Thanksgiving. Give them a try, and give yourself (and others) the gift of a heart full of love this holiday.
Be an Intimacy Initiator
I can remember the first time I suggested to my nice but not overly emotionally expressive or touchy feely family that we try something new before we dug into the turkey, stuffing and oh-so yummy gravy. For as long as I could remember, the meal had always begun with a short prayer said by the same two people – my uncle (who was not blood related and therefore had not problem using his emotional expression gene) or my 5- year old cousin (who was guaranteed to be brief.)
This year however, before either could get a word out, I announced that there was something new that I wanted to try. The room got silent, their eyes got bigger and I could feel the “Oh no, she’s been watching Oprah again!” running through their minds.
I didn’t let their doubt, skepticism or rush of fear stop me. Oh no, I had the inspired spirit of gratitude running through me. With an enthusiasm bold enough to crash through their Great Walls of Repression I announced, “I’d like us all to go around the table and say from our hearts what we are truly grateful for.” Now this may not be a big deal for your family, but for this tribe, I had just stepped over a line. Small talk, football, current events and a prayer, safe. Sharing from the heart, intimacy as in “into-me see,” stop! Too close.
So it was no shocker that the first response was absolute silence. Gulp. But then, as if an angel descended from the sky to save me from my self-induced peril, my 5-year old cousin rang out, “Can I go first?” And with his child-like enthusiasm leading us, we were on our way around the table. One by one they shared (they had no choice, they were trapped for there was no way to excuse themselves to the bathroom now!) And for the first time ever, this family actually shared from their hearts (without the need of several cocktails to do so.)
It gave me great pleasure, not to watch them squirm (although they did), but to see that in the end, each person, well most of them, really did like sharing. Each man, woman and child felt a little more seen, and truthfully, isn’t that one of the greatest gifts we have to give another human being? The gift of being seen for who we are.
LOVE DARE #1:
Initiate an action that creates more “Into-me-see” with the people you spend your Thanksgiving with.
- What is the edge of intimacy for your group? What one small shift can you initiate or what one courageous suggestion can you make to increase connection?
- What one creative way can you ensure each person leaves the gathering feeling more seen? It could be as simple as a place setting with their name and the thing you are most grateful for about them. Or as bold as giving every one a pad of sticky notes and a marker and full permission to stick words of personal gratitude on people throughout the entire evening.
Be a Story Changer
Turkeys. Pilgrims. Indians. Big Dinner. The End. That’s the story that we all learned, enacted and painted our entire childhood existence. And if you were like me, you never questioned its validity or the fact the happy ending was absolute truth. The cute children’s books, the holiday rituals and the high school history books all collaborated the same story, so why question?
Through my bold questioning and search for truth for the meaning of this holiday, I learned that the facts our societal systems teach us to believe are often stories fabricated to hide the ugly truth of what humans sometimes do in their quest for power.
Today, for most of us, the most negative reality of our post–Thanksgiving dinners are bursting waistbands and a turkey-induced nap. The consequences for the Native Americans that followed the original Thanksgiving dinner (if it even happened) were much harsher. Our history books just don’t like to admit it.
In today’s virtually connected world, we can be thankful that we don’t need the history books to tell the truth or to create a new story. We are each empowered to change the ending of the post-Thanksgiving story ourselves by acknowledging the true story and acknowledging the Native Americans who kept this land safe and sacred for thousands of years before we arrived to pollute it. Turkeys. Pilgrims. Indians. Big Dinners. Truth. Respect. Honoring. Native Americans. Love.
LOVE DARE #2:
Invite the spirit of Native Americans to dinner.
- Set one place setting for the Native Americans at the table – and yep, put some food on it!
- Say a Native American prayer to start dinner, or before cooking. You’d be surprised what you can find in a Google search.
- Tell the real story (after dinner – not good digestion talk) and then share what you are grateful to the Native Americans for. If you don’t know what they have given us, google Native American contributions and see what you learn.
Be a Gratitude Generator
Who needs Pictionary, charades, or another football game when you have a Gratitude Generator at the party? Over the years, I have made it my role to be a Gratitude Generator. Definition: one whose role it is to activate the spirit of gratitude in others, with the intention of filling hearts full of love on Thanksgiving Day. My multitude of Thanksgiving experiments have yielded some fascinating findings, including that one of the best ways to take the scariness out of the heart opening required for authentic gratitude is to add the element of PLAY. Make it fun and unassuming and people will participate. Before they know it, they will be adding their own flair to the fun, becoming Gratitude Generators themselves.
LOVE DARE #3:
Set the intention to be a Gratitude Generator for the day, inviting people into fun and playful ways to express gratitude.
Here is one creative idea I love, but put your Genius Gratitude heart on and see what creative ideas you can generate.
Gratitude Gone Wild – upon arrival, give each guest a marker and a colored pad of sticky notes instructing them that their goal is to leave the night with no sticky notes left on their pad. Their assignment? To spontaneously write all the things they are grateful for on the stickies (one per sheet) throughout the night, giving them liberty to put the stickies wherever they like (walls, ceilings, cupboards). Toward the end of the evening, gather the group and invite people to choose three gratitudes from all the postings that they would like to
be able to say they are grateful for next year. Tell them they can take the postings home with them (the best leftovers ever!) And best of all, if you are the party host, you will be finding gratitudes all year long!
About Christine Arylo
Christine Arylo, an m.b.a. turned writer, speaker and teacher, is an inspirational catalyst who teaches women how to stop being so hard on themselves. A recovering achievement junkie and doing addict herself, Arylo is the co-founder of Inner Mean Girl Reform School and the author of Choosing ME before WE, Every Woman’s Guide to Life and Love www.mebeforewe.com. Known as the “Queen of Self-Love,” Arylo created Madly in Love with ME, the international day of self-love (Feb 13), dedicated to making self-love a tangible reality for women and girls around the world. www.madlyinlovewithme.com