Hygge is a Danish concept of coziness and comfort. Thanksgiving is a feasting holiday that embodies many of the elements of hygge. Are you ready to have a hygge Thanksgiving? The over eating probably isn’t the best aspect of Thanksgiving for hygge, but roasted meat, carbs, and the love of friends and family is very hyggelig.
Whether it is the classics of a roasted turkey with sage dressing or a family tradition like lobster, rib roast, or a spiral cut ham, tap into Thanksgiving hygge by enjoying the foods that bring you comfort. Don’t let the opinions of others, family or friends, dissuade you from enjoying those foods that make you contented.
Pumpkin pie or sweet potato pie. The right choice is the one that makes you happy and contented. This year it is even more important to make the connection to the foods that make you happiest.
Find Common Ground
To say America is politically divided is an understatement and for many people, the idea of a Thanksgiving dinner in our current divided climate is stressful. How can you sit down at a meal with people who hold completely different views of the world than you?
There are many resources available to help guide you on tense family dynamics. Like this recently published article on camilletsyles.com, How to Navigate Family Dynamics During the Holidays. Psychology Today published an article, Navigating the Holidays During Politically Divided Times that also offers helpful advice.
Most of the advice boils down to a few basic principles.
Listen. People want to know they are being heard. They want to know their experiences, knowledge, and opinions aren’t being summarily dismissed. Listening is hard because we are built to respond. Not everything needs a response.
Empathize. You don’t have to agree with them, but you can find empathy for their pain. Even if that empathy is about their struggle in adapting to change that is beyond their control.
Disengage. When directly attacked or dealing with someone who is very aggressive in their opinions, the need to defend yourself and your ideas is heightened. Learning to step away, diverting the topic, or diffusing the situation by simply saying you’d rather not talk about divisive issues becomes important.
Make It About Moments
Make the holiday about the shared moments, not about the world outside.
Focus on what you are doing and remove all other distractions. Put the phones away and turn off the TVs. The people and activities in front of you deserve your full attention.
Make this day about making moments and making memories. Meik Wiking in the book The Art of Making Memories calls out ways to make happy memories. These include:
- Harness the power of firsts. Unique experiences are more memorable.
- Use all the senses. Activities that go beyond the visual enhance memories. So think in terms of tactile, audible, and smell. Sing songs and make things.
- Sharing stories reinforces memories.
- Take pictures and record videos.
Dig through old photos and talk with your older relatives and find out what old family traditions there were that have fallen to the wayside. Find a way to revive those traditions. They may need to be modernized, they may need to be completely overhauled, but find those connections to your past.
When you revive traditions or reinvigorate old traditions, then you not only reconnect with your own personal history but are able to showcase your history to others.
Think in terms of the games your family used to play or routines in the day. For example, one family always played Shanghai Rummy after Thanksgiving. Another family played a game of touch football. Yet another family began their Thanksgiving day with Bloody Mary’s. The tradition doesn’t have to be complex.
It is the reason for the season. Gratitude seems easy, but actually it is a skill that needs to be used and practiced to be strengthened. The benefits of practicing gratitude have been reported many times and aren’t abstract. There are real tangible benefits to gratitude.
- Gratitude boosts immune systems.
- Gratitude causes more positive feelings.
- Gratitude makes you feel less lonely.
How do you practice gratitude? Here are 10 Ways to Become More Grateful as reported by Berkeley.edu.
Making memories is important, but spending time on remembering the good things from your past is also important. Take time to remember those who are no longer with you.
Pulling out old photo albums, old home movies, even just setting aside time to tell stories of past Thanksgivings.
For those who can’t be with their friends and families having some time where you spend time going through your favorite memories.
Nostalgia Has Benefits
- Nostalgia boosts optimism.
- Nostalgia increases creativity.
- Nostalgia increases social connectedness.
- Nostalgia reduces stress.
To have bring hygge into Thanksgiving, take time to reminisce about shared times in the past.
Whether you have decided to share warm beverages in your favorite mug or have special table centerpieces for your feast, the right decorations can go a long way in bringing that feeling of intentional coziness to your Thanksgiving home.
In the most simple way to bring hygge to your Thanksgiving, light some pillar or taper candles. Dim the lights and experience dinner by candlelight.
Or seek out some creative Thanksgiving decor from local artists. They will have more meaning than mass produced decorations because they will be more unique. Don’t get trapped into the idea that you have to buy hygge. Hygge is a feeling and not a commodity.