Thanksgiving

How to have an amazing Thanksgiving

A few years ago, I was pretty bummed out around this time. I was totally dwelling on the fact that I was estranged from my family and wasn't going to have the 'typical' Thanksgiving experience. I felt broken and sad, like there was something really wrong with me and everyone else was having this great time.

As the past few years have gone by, I see that a lot of people are in the same boat, for many reasons. There was nothing broken or wrong about me. Others feel the same way, too.

It's true that SOME people have the experience that media tells us we should have. And BOY! don't they do a kick-ass job of it? You know the commercials of people serving a 50-lb turkey with all the trimmings dressed in perfectly-ironed outfits with fresh haircuts. Then, they all sit at the huge dining room table at Grandma's house. The message is: "Everyone is doing this. You should be, too."

How can we be so smart and such suckers to buy that crap every single year?!

This year, be real. Get honest. Those commercials are meant to sell you stuff. Buy this food, buy this device, buy this scarf--and you will be normal and really happy like these people. Some people have that experience, most don't. Whatever your situation, you are totally in the driver's seat for making the day amazing.

 

CHOOSE YOUR CELEBRATION STYLE

Got family to visit? Awesome. Head over and make it the best day possible. Take it on like a challenge or workout for your ego. Don't complain about it or want them to be different. Remember that some people would like to have family to visit. You have them. Love them for exactly who they are and exactly who they aren't.

Is your family far away or are you estranged from them like I was? For three years in a row, I am celebrating with the same people and omg, we make it better and better each year! You can also choose to celebrate alone or reach out and ask a friend if you can tag along with their plans. People assume you are taken care of, so express your need to someone you love and trust and see what happens. I did it a few years ago, and it was awesome.

Maybe you got an invite from friends but it feels weird to go solo. Maybe they will judge you. Maybe it reminds you that you don't have a family. You have options. Consider that you showing up makes all those folks happier than you could ever know, because they get to share their joy with you. Perhaps spending the day on your couch with your favorite foods with your favorite movies is just what you need. Brunch plans and then the movies on your own? Be creative! Think outside that box sold in those commercials. It isn't real. Your life IS real and you get to create it.

Make it happen. Whatever it is, CHOOSE it. Decide you love it and soak up the hours you have to bask in the day of your choosing.

 

ENJOY WHAT YOU'RE EATING

I see a lot of people getting a little freaked out about the amazing feast that is Thanksgiving. My advice is to eat the tasty food. Dieting today won't magically help you lose 10 pounds. You also won't gain 10, from one day of overindulging. Do whatever you need or want to do. Last year, one client of mine woke up and ate a very healthy breakfast of eggs and spinach and toast and then spent the rest of the day focusing on loving her family and enjoying her favorite dishes. She even brought a healthy dish to contribute to the table and got rave reviews from everyone!

Everyone has their own style and relationship to food, but what has worked best for me the past few years is to eat really well for breakfast and lunch, drink lots of water and eat some fresh fruit and veggies. At the late afternoon or evening celebration meal, I try everything in small portions, first. A bite of this. A taste of that. I sample everything and then eat whatever I REALLY like.

 

Be real about your situation, whatever it is. Don't apologize or be embarrassed. Be grateful for it, even more grateful, on this day. That's the whole freakin' point, right? Choose how to celebrate, make it your own and please--really enjoy whatever you're eating.

Make this an amazing Thanksgiving!

 

 

A Very Special Thanksgiving-With Our Family of Intention

For many, Thanksgiving is a time of year where people head to the homes of their childhoods and celebrate with their families of origin. Turkey, sweet potatoes and stuffing await. And, of course, leftovers. For many people, this simply isn't their reality. Or if it is, it certainly isn't the experience depicted in the famous Norman Rockwell painting.

For many folks, especially those in the LGBTQ community, the holidays are a time when they gather a family of intention around them--because they aren't welcome at "home" due to their sexual or gender orientation or because of the way they live their lives. Political, religious and lifestyle habits can make family gatherings difficult at best, so many folks choose to avoid the situation entirely, and the discomfort that can come with it. Endless years of being singled-out as the lone vegetarian at the table (despite the fact that the only thing I wasn't eating was the turkey, itself) or chastised because I was the lone liberal-minded queer convinced me that making the long trek home wasn't worth the hassle. Forget about asking if the turkey was grass-fed and organic.

Then there are folks who can't afford to fly long-distances several times in a couple of months to celebrate the holidays with their loved ones or aren't able to for job-related reasons. Where are those folks supposed to go? What are folks to do when faced with the reality of an orphan holiday?

JOIN FORCES, OF COURSE!

This Thanksgiving, I found myself seated around a table enjoying one of the best meals I've ever eaten. Why? Because it was food that I felt 100% good about and I was sharing it with people I felt 100% comfortable to be around. My partner and I shopped for ingredients that were either locally-sourced or organic (ok, except for the marshmallows) and we prepared meals based on these values. We knew our guests share our intentionality when it comes to food (and most other things), so we prepared ourselves for their incredible contributions!

Canned cranberry sauce (jellied?) that is about 76% sugar? Why not spread cranberry jelly on your turkey?

Stuffing made with bread that only makes you feel stuffed from all the wheat flour halfway through your meal? No thanks. We made ours with quinoa, mushrooms, diced apricots, apples and herbs!

What about greens? How many American households had a homemade green salad made with shredded Brussels sprouts and red kale? Not too many, we're pretty sure. ;)

And our friends. We invited some hetero folks who recently moved to Boston and weren't able to fly to the Midwest for the holidays this year. What a bummer! Imagine moving to a new city and having no one to chill with for Thanksgiving?! No way! We scooped up those pals as well as another friend who wasn't flying to the West coast for the holiday and we all successfully made our way through 6 bottles of wine.

Talk about holiday cheer!

If we said it once, we said it 1,000 times---"this is the best Thanksgiving I've ever had--the food is so good for us, tastes amazing, and you can't beat the company". It was unanimous. We were truly so very grateful to be fed by a dinner of natural foods and surrounded by kindred company and conversation.

We felt blessed and grateful that we broke the mold and created a very special Thanksgiving--with a new family of intention.

PS if you want any of these recipes--hit me up! You can rock out next year! ;)

Sweet Squash Soup*

Serve this sucker at Thanksgiving on Thursday.

It's:

1) easy

2) seasonal

3) delicious

That's what I always promise, yes?  ;)

SWEET SQUASH SOUP*

Ingredients

2 tablespoons butter

1 small Spanish onion, medium diced

1 teaspoon cinnamon

3/4 teaspoon sea salt

4 cups butternut squash, peeled and cut into large cubes

4 cups vegetable stock

2 tablespoon maple syrup (optional---but recommended by me)

Instructions

1) Heat the butter in a large thick-bottomed soup pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion and saute until it begins to brown, 3-5 minutes. Stir in the cinnamon and salt. Add the squash and saute for 5 minutes. Add the stock and increase the heat to high. Cover the pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and simmer gently until the squash is soft, 15-20 minutes.

2) Use an immersion blender  to puree the soup right in the pot or transfer the mixture to a blender (or your Vitamix like we will, holla!!) and puree until smooth. (Use caution while pureeing hot liquid; keep blades of an immersion blender submerged and if using a blender, work in batches, filling the blender jar only halfway and hold cloth over the lid while pureeing.) If using maple syrup, add it to the squash while pureeing. Return the pureed soup to the pot and heat over medium heat, stirring constantly until hot. Serve hot.

*this recipe comes from the seasonal menu cookbook from Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health in Lenox, MA. They titled it vegan and used Smart Balance in place of butter. As a holistic health coach, I use whole foods over processed ones as often as possible so I suggest using butter. I prefer to use real foods from sources where I know the animals were treated humanely. I make that decision over using chemically-created/processed alternatives for my own health. Do some research about these "alternative foods" and make the choice that feels right for you.