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Next week is Thanksgiving – and it’s sure to be one we’ll remember for a long time, although maybe not for the reasons we’d like. Nevertheless, over here, we’re still trying to embrace it as much as we can. Even if that means having a Zoom Thanksgiving…

Seriously? We know. It’s so far from ideal. But, given the nation-wide spikes in covid-19 cases right now, most experts say it’s the safest way. For more on that, check out the CDC recommendations here. If you are going to gather with others, the Martha Stewart magazine has some ideas on how to do that with health and safety top of mind. And who doesn’t do what Martha tells them to? The advice doesn’t veer too much from what you might expect: Keep your dinner to a small group, eat outside if possible, take care to hand wash and sanitize a TON – more than you think is probably necessary, and maybe even use disposable plates and utensils.

This piece, from Vice, is another take on how to have a festive and safe, socially distanced holiday – bonus: some comic relief is included. It comes from the writer S. Bear Bergman who starts with the premise that Jewish people – who have by now celebrated four major holidays during the pandemic – have learned a fair amount about how to still make these celebrations meaningful and fun. It takes some creativity and a lot of open-mindedness, he says, but you just might be pleasantly surprised by the outcome.

Truth is, no matter how you slice it (hahaha pun intended), it’s all going to be a bit different this year. But recent news about vaccines has been incredibly promising. So here’s hoping that means we will only have to Zoom fight with our relatives this once.

Given the circumstances this year, it feels more important than ever to focus on what we’re grateful for. Turns out, that’s not a bad idea. Research has shown that “gratitude is strongly and consistently associated with greater happiness.” According to this article from CNN, people who are grateful also tend to be less stressed or depressed, manage adversity better, sleep better and even have partners who are more content in their relationship. The piece traces the roots of gratitude and suggests a few simple ways to practice it like journaling and regularly giving thanks.

But gratitude is not just for adults. In fact, teaching our children to be grateful is key. According to an article by a psychology professor and researcher with the Raising Grateful Children project at UNC Chapel Hill, we should think about gratitude as an experience with four parts. Those include:

What we NOTICE in our lives for which we can be grateful
How we THINK about why we have been given those things
How we FEEL about the things we have been given, and
What we DO to express appreciation in turn

This concept includes understanding gratitude as encompassing both receiving and giving. To help parents cultivate gratitude in their children beyond a polite thank you, the piece includes questions parents can ask their kiddos to get them thinking more critically about what they’re grateful for and why.

Another idea is to use simple prompts to begin conversations about gratitude with your children. To do that you can check out this video explaining how to write gratefulness letters. We’re sure there might be a few grandparents unable to sit around the Thanksgiving table with their grandkids this year who would love to get such a note in the mail…

Volunteering with your kiddos could be another way to teach gratitude (that giving-back part) and has also been shown to have lots of health benefits like reducing depression and anxiety, increasing life expectancy, improving children’s self-esteem and teaching kids about empathy and thinking of others. Although, like everything else, how you do it this year may be different, volunteering is still possible. Sewing masks, writing letters, preparing meals for the hungry, running toy or food drives, and raising money for charities are all options to consider. And, as they’ve done for more than 100 years, the US Postal Service will run Operation Santa again this year. You can begin adopting letters on December 4th.

Finally, there’s the cooking part of Thanksgiving. Otherwise known as, the best part…or, let’s be real, a close second to the eating part. Check out this video tour of Ina Garten’s kitchen to make sure you have all the key supplies for your Thanksgiving meal prep. Also, just check it out because she always makes us feel better, always. Why is she so comforting?

Then, if you want any more Thanksgiving cooking inspiration, tune into Melissa Clark’s video showing us how to cook the entire holiday meal with just one pot and one pan. Less fuss, more fun??? Every heard that before?? Enjoy! 

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