To have a more relaxed Thanksgiving, make it about giving thanks!

Thanksgiving kicks off what can be a stressful holiday season. There are a lot of expectations this time of year. Many of us really want the perfect Thanksgiving dinner—a big, delicious feast we can eat surrounded by our loved ones. It’s a beautiful image, but it can be tough to perfectly translate into real life!

Maybe we don’t need to worry about doing it perfectly.

One of the things I always liked about the story of the first Thanksgiving, hundreds of years ago, was that it was about a group of people being grateful for what they had. They didn’t have an extravagant meal meant to impress all their out of town relatives, or try to outdo what they did the year before. They just came together, shared some of the bounty of their harvest, and celebrated being in each other’s company.

I think we would do well to learn from that. The more we make the focus of Thanksgiving (or any other day) on being grateful for what we have, the more we can appreciate life for what it is, rather than worrying about what it isn’t. We can put our energy into appreciating our loved ones and whatever bounty we do have for our table, even if we burn the turkey a little or overcook the potatoes. It’s okay!

It might sound funny, but just by making the choice (again and again) to be grateful instead of critical, we can have a much more peaceful, relaxed holiday experience.

This time of year is also a great time to practice gratitude by giving to others in need. If you can spare something, I want to suggest making a donation to the Capital Area Food Bank, which feeds the hungry in DC, Maryland and Virginia. For the more globally minded, Heifer International supplies farm animals to families in developing countries, helping give them a sustainable food source. What better way to celebrate Thanksgiving than by feeding the hungry?

Wishing you blessings and bounty this holiday season!