Meaningful Thanksgiving Family Dinners

By Ruth Chung




Meaningful Thanksgiving dinners are the result of more than just good food.  Of course the food is great and can really bring good quality time with people, but what matters more than that is the heart behind the dinner.  Thanksgiving is meant to be a day spent with the ones you’re closest to;the ones in your life you usually take for granted.  Thankfulness ought to go beyond just the holiday.  It’s difficult to be thankful nowadays because society prompts us to always look for the next new thing.  At the same time, being in a college setting puts us always on our toes—trying to keep up with classes and friendships, moving in and out of dorms and apartments, etc.  We don’t get much time to spend with family, nor do we get much time to even remember why we ought to be thankful for our families in the first place.

Although thankfulness is not inherent in many of us today, there are a few ways to prepare for a Thanksgiving Family Dinner with more meaning.


  1. Complain.  Before the day comes, get all your complaints out on paper.  Complain about your classes, your friends, your family, your circumstances, your fears.  Get it all down in a long list, and then go through the list and write one good thing that comes out of that seemingly bad thing.  Being thankful is about perspective.
  1. Then, do the opposite.  Think about the positives in your life, and make time to just reflect on the good that comes out of that.  Although it is easy to be thankful for what is good, it is not often that we get to sit down and reflect on these good things in life.  This also helps us not to take what good we have for granted.
  1. Next, to think more practically about the actual day, think about one thing you can bring to your family dinner.  It can be some kind of physical gift, a dessert or portion of the meal, or even something like an idea for quality time after the meal.  Bring something—remember that meaning to these dinners doesn’t come out of nowhere.  It takes hard work, and the more people that contribute the better it will be!  It is also generally helpful to have an attitude of giving.
  1. And when the day arrives, make sure you are all there.  Put away your phone and electronics (except cameras to take pictures).  Don’t social-media-ize anything until it’s all over.  When glued to your phone, it gives off the impression that you don’t want to be there, and that kills the togetherness of the room.  Make sure your mind and heart are fully present!
  1. Finally, take time to record and reflect what your day was like.  Reflect on what made it so meaningful to you!  This can help to make it even more special next year.


Having a meaningful Thanksgiving family dinner is completely up to the attitude of the people present.  Show up with a heart that knows what good they have, and be willing to give.  The more joy and thankfulness you have, the wider it will spread!



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