Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Lengthen Thanksgiving Dinner With These Ideas

I realize most of you are likely swamped with holiday cooking, baking, entertaining, etc. right now--too busy to read a blog for Pete's sake. But just in case there's anyone out there still in cyberspace, I need to talk. Am I the only mom/grandma that's annoyed with how  quickly this elaborate and laborious (albeit FUN laboriousness) meal is consumed? I spend most of the day getting it on the table and in 25 minutes or so, it's over! Snarf, snarf, wolf, wolf, gulp, gulp (burp, burp)--SEE ya! Off they go to watch football!

Not one to feel sorry for myself too long, I've been working on some ideas to thwart this Thanksgiving Dinner pattern. I've come up with some ideas for stretching the length of Thanksgiving Dinner by stretching the table talk, and thought I'd share them in the off chance some of you have the same complaint. Here are my thoughts:
  • We should serve salad first, just like it's done in a nice restaurant. When this course is finished, the rest of the meal is placed on the table and food is passed around the table family-style.
  • While enjoying the salad, we could start conversation with the traditional "What are you grateful for this year?", but with a twist that calls for a little more thought and specificity: "What is one thing you experienced this year that drew your attention to how blessed you are?" There are probably several versions of this question--the idea is to couch it so it sparks true conversation.
  •  Another conversation starter that would be fun is placing a Thanksgiving history quiz and pencil at each place-setting. While everyone is eating, the questions could be discussed and answered as a group. (Of course, you'd need to have the answers handy. Googling THANKSGIVING quiz will bring up some good choices.)

  • One mom I know got little blank books at her local dollar store, wrote the names of her dinner guests on them and placed one at each appropriate place setting. She called these books "Gratitude Journals." She encouraged everyone to write 5 things they're grateful for every evening before going to bed. She tells me this has become a nice tradition for their family, and now they all look forward to their new journal each year. She's also mentioned that she's noticed some great improvements in her teenagers' attitudes since starting this. 
I don't have a single idea on how to prevent the stampede to the TV for football watching. I guess there are some things in life we just live with. What's important is that those we love are gathered together--what a sweet thing to be thankful for. 

Although by the time most of you read this, our Thanksgiving Dinner will be over and cleaned up, these ideas would also work well for the next holiday dinner coming--Christmas--so let's keep this conversation going: Do YOU have ideas or thoughts on how to get folks to linger longer over the exquisite meals we're serving up? Please do share. We're all in this  together, remember. So until next time, here's to lengthening time spent eating our Thanksgiving feast, and of course, here's to making family dinner hour possible!


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