How to have a happier Thanksgiving

Not everyone loves family gatherings. For some, events such as Thanksgiving dinner may be rough, especially if family tension is a side dish served with the meal.

You can turn any gathering into a sacred occasion if you emphasize the positive. Your intention to add to the good feelings will go a long way! A joyous family event is usually a mix of sweet memories mingled with an appreciation of the present moment. Here are eight special tips for feeding your hunger for family closeness and joy.

Leave Your Anger at the Door
Whether you have an ongoing issue with your family or particular family members, or you are feeling beaten down by the year that has passed, try to leave your anger outside. If you can make an attempt to enter a family gathering with an open mind and open heart, you might just find it can be a fun and fulfilling experience.

Be Nice
A smile can go a long way. Families that tend to be filled with drama, or loaded with individuals who will never quite “get you” can be frustrating. But don’t be cranky. Be grateful you have a family to go to on Thanksgiving! If you are nice, others will mirror your behavior.

Hug a Loved One
It may seem corny, but it’s not! Hug the people you love and tell each of them something you love or admire — his or her outfit, hair style, cooking or general good nature and generosity. Hugging is more than bodily contact; it is an energetic contact that brings the energy of love and warmth into any situation.

Listen Compassionately
During the schmoozing part of the family gathering, before the food is served, steer away from meaningless chitchat. Instead, listen to what people have to say. Share your stories, but listen to other people without judging. This is especially important with anyone who is set in their way. Try not to get reactivated by people who push your buttons or are annoying. Just smile.

Share Good Memories
One thing we all have in common with most of our relatives is shared history. Bring out the photo albums and scrapbooks. Share the stories of good times and happy days. Add more joy to the gathering by recalling the best of times, together.

Let Music Fill the Air
Music opens the heart and uplifts the spirit. Buy or locate a piece of music that is a family favorite, something that is part of your shared history. Perhaps it is something you can all sing along to, or that stimulates the sharing of memories about good times. Any music and song that warms the heart will get people in a good mood. Is your family musical? A live performance can be great!


Say Grace
Even if your family has never said a dinner prayer in their lives, suggest one this year; or add this prayer to the customary grace that is said at dinner.

Adapt this prayer to your family religious and spiritual beliefs:

We are so grateful for the opportunity to gather with family (and friends).
We are thankful for the delicious dinner that has been prepared with love.
As we begin, let us express gratitude for what we have.
May we all be blessed with health and happiness today, and always.
May good experiences be bountiful and challenges be few.
And may we take a moment to send our good thoughts and blessings for peace out to the world.
Let us all be uplifted and embraced by love.
Dig in and enjoy!

Express Gratitude
During, or at the end of, the meal, invite everyone to take a moment to think of something that they are thankful for. Go around the table and let everyone speak (if they want). It may seem a little awkward at first (especially for the family jokesters) but people love it! It gets them thinking and it gives them a platform for speaking and sharing. This is especially poignant when people share triumphs and blessings about difficulties they have faced in the past year.

Laurie Sue Brockway is author of The Goddess Pages: A Divine Guide to Finding Love and Happiness.

Article courtesy of Beliefnet offers daily inspiration with news articles on faith, religion, politics, health, family entertainment, sustainable living and more.