Last Thanksgiving, our team gathered for a Worksgiving to kick off an impactful holiday season. This year, our celebration looks a bit different. With slices of pie in hand, we gathered for a Zoomsgiving, where we enjoyed good food and good company while discussing how we can make our impact in the remainder of 2020.
We know that we are not alone in changing how we celebrate Thanksgiving. Many across the country will be separated from families, friends, and loved ones this holiday season. On top of this, we are in the aftermath of a tumultuous election cycle, with political divisions adding to physical distance. How should we gather to celebrate a holiday based in gratitude and togetherness, when we have faced such a challenging and dividing year?
While this Thanksgiving will undoubtedly be unique, the fundamentals of the holiday — a focus on gratitude and giving — are not forgotten. This year, we encourage you to dig deep into connection and community, even if doing so looks a bit different than before.
At the center of Thanksgiving is the idea of giving thanks. After a challenging year, gratitude may feel more complicated than usual. Many have suffered extraordinary loss, and folks on both sides of the political aisle may feel disheartened by a shockingly close election. But reflecting on the past year can help you access gratitude.
Make a gratitude journal or list with friends and family
While there have been many major challenges, there likely remains much in your life to be thankful for. From loved ones you can virtually or in-person unite with, to animal friends, to nature, we hope that everyone will be able to find things they can be thankful for. Studies have found that writing down things you are grateful for improves your overall health and well-being. Ask your friends and family to join you in writing a gratitude list, and share with each other!
Look for the helpers
Fred Rogers once recalled, “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’” In times of strife, there are always those who are risking their own safety to help communities. Focusing on the frontline workers at the polls and hospitals, the essential workers in grocery stores and other businesses, and the organizations devoting themselves to making an impact can be a positive reflection tool. If you know any frontline workers, considering writing them a thank-you card. It will be a meaningful gift for both of you.
Consider how you can work toward community success
No matter how you felt about the outcomes of this year’s election, you are certain to have reflected on how you can help those in your community who need it most. Focus on this as you celebrate Thanksgiving, and develop a plan of action to work toward community success. This reflection can be the foundation for a consistent and powerful impact.
Thanksgiving kicks off a season of giving. In fact, Giving Tuesday, celebrated on December 1 (the week after Thanksgiving), is a great time to find a cause that needs your help. On top of finding organizations to give to, you can come up with your own ideas to expand this giving:
Donate food and goods
This Thanksgiving, give the gift of good food, warm clothing, and more through a donation drive. Create your own donation drive with friends and family, or participate in a drive that is already set up by an organization in your community. Food banks in particular are overwhelmed this year due to increased needs from the coronavirus pandemic. Your donations of food and goods make more of a difference than ever; help your community by giving back during this holiday season.
Create a peer-to-peer fundraising campaign
You may be separated from loved ones this Thanksgiving, but you can still come together to make a difference. Consider creating a peer-to-peer fundraising campaign with those you’d normally celebrate with to work together toward a shared goal. You may even be able to join a Giving Tuesday fundraising campaign and align your work toward a bigger goal!
Volunteer to thank donors and volunteers with your favorite organization
As the giving season approaches, organizations need help from enthusiastic volunteers who will help them show donors the impact of their work. Reach out to an organization you care about and see if you can help them write thank-you letters or make calls to donors, particularly during this busy season. You can also search for opportunities to help organizations by seeing any opportunities they already have listed!
At the end of the day, Thanksgiving is about connecting with friends, family, coworkers, and others in your community. Doing so safely will ensure that you keep your community safe, while also sharing your gratitude with those closest to you. Here are some ideas:
Host a physically distanced Thanksgiving
If the weather permits, host an outdoors, physically distanced Thanksgiving. Find a space large enough to host a small gathering. Make food that can be served in individually wrapped containers (for example, Thanksgiving sandwiches with layers of turkey, cranberry sauce, and stuffing, or individual slices of pumpkin pie), wear warm clothes, and settle in for an outdoors Thanksgiving. For extra festivities, plan ahead and set up festive autumn decorations, or even bring an outdoor space heater if you’re celebrating somewhere cold!
Stick to your bubble and make new traditions
Some people are quarantining with one or a few close friends or family members. These bubbles can create new traditions from these smaller, more intimate gatherings. Whether it’s working together to bake extra pies and deliver them to friends and family within driving distance, finding a new recipe to test, or deciding as a group on an organization to give to for Giving Tuesday, there are many ways that you can use this smaller group to dig deep in gratitude.
Connect for Zoomsgiving
Zoom, Facetime, and other video conferencing platforms allow you to connect with those you may not otherwise have been able to celebrate with, even without COVID-19. Find a time to celebrate Zoomsgiving, or create an open Thanksgiving Zoom channel for extended family and friend to hop in and say hi for as brief or long a time as they can stay. Have everyone on the call cook the same recipe and see how they turned out, come up with prompts to reflect on the year and plan for the future, and take some time to be grateful for connections that span distances.
From the whole team at GivePulse, have a happy Thanksgiving, and stay tuned for more reflection materials as we end the year!