10 Questions to Ask Yourself at the Thanksgiving Table

Some look forward to Thanksgiving with anticipation: family, friends, and planning for the perfect turkey/stuffing/mashed potatoes to gravy ratio. Some dread the coming of the holiday season. Strained or broken relationships, disappointment, and other factors create seasonal stress.

For some, Thanksgiving is a time to shut down. We coach ourselves ahead of time not to mention politics, religion, or that family secret that hasn’t been a secret for years. The Thanksgiving table is the last place in the world that feels safe for our truest selves.

Instead of avoiding everything uncomfortable, Thanksgiving can be a time we embrace some discomfort and make the holiday a gift we give ourselves—an opportunity for self-reflection before Christmas and New Year’s. Instead of counting the minutes until dinner is over, we can choose to engage in a different way.

The more beautiful world we all long for starts with us becoming more beautiful people.

We can’t wait for the world to change, or our family to change. Our own change creates a pocket of beauty in the world.

To make the most of the occasion, here are 10 questions to ask yourself at the Thanksgiving table this year:

  1. Do the people around this table know I love, value, and respect them? Have I told them?
  2. Which person at the table do I wish I knew better? How can I make that happen this year?
  3. Who thinks so differently than me, that I can’t imagine sharing this table with them? How can I bridge that gap this year, even just a little?
  4. What makes me feel seen and heard? What about those at this table? (They might not be the same things!)
  5. Who in my community do I have much to learn from? How can I share a table with them?
  6. Whose perspective is missing from the table? Whose story am I not hearing? How can I expand my circle to include different voices?
  7. How can I create “Thanksgiving tables”—opportunities to share meals, stories, and gratitude—other times throughout the year?
  8. Who in my community is doing thankless work that makes life better for me and my neighbours? How can I show them they are seen and valued?
  9. How have I grown since this time last year? How do I hope to be different next year?
  10. If I’m at a Thanksgiving table but for any of a thousand reasons wish I wasn’t, what kind of connections do I find the most life-giving? What steps can I take now, so next Thanksgiving is a different experience?