Thanksgiving isn’t all about the turkey

It’s easy for us Dukes to get wrapped up in looking forward to fall break, Thanksgiving, Chanukah, Christmas and New Years. But for me I am looking forward to my Friendsgiving on Wednesday night before I leave for fall break. With all of the holidays coming up it’s important to make every holiday event memorable and to express thanks.


I am going to start with Friendsgiving. Recent research has confirmed that finding room in your heart for gratitude is really good for your emotional health. There are hundreds of ways that people may express thanks, but here are five general categories that might be able to help you, your friends and family express thanks this Friendsgiving or Thanksgiving.

  1. Remembrance Items
  2. Holiday-Specific Activities
  3. Time Reserved for Sharing
  4. Ritual Expressions of Gratitude
  5. Special Foods

Remembrance Items

This one might be corny to you but some traditional remembrance items usually include pictures or an item that represents your family or that holiday that you bring out every year. You can even start a journal where everyone writes under that year why they are thankful. You can do this for your family Thanksgiving or Friendsgiving but maybe for Friendsgiving you would want to do something less serious. Maybe just get an item that reminds you all of JMU and bring it to every holiday you celebrate together. Use that item to remind you of each other and why you are thankful for each other.

Holiday-Specific Activities

A traditional holiday activity is one of my favorite ways to feel a sense of gratitude, make memories, but also have fun and laughter with my family and friends. With my family on Thanksgiving we have a flag football game since twenty of my cousins and I are together. My aunts and uncles and parents usually come out to the field at my uncle’s house and cheer us on but when it starts to get cold they migrate inside to prepare dessert. This year it will be our fifth time having our traditional flag football game on Thanksgiving. For Friendsgiving that my roommates and I are hosting at my house on Wednesday, I want to propose to my friends that we all play a fun game like Headbands. I know that my friends are too lazy to go outside and play flag football so I think that Headbands is something that all of us would get a good laugh at and form a tradition for our next Friendsgiving.

Time Reserved for Sharing

Make sure you catch up with all of your relatives on Thanksgiving. Catching up gives a time for you to fill in your cousins and aunts and uncles with what you have been up to since you last saw them and can strike story telling with one another. Sharing forms a sense of family unity. This sharing category goes for Friendsgiving as well. I think that with your friends it is about reminiscing about what you all have done together this past semester. Since you are probably with these people most of your days at school, they probably are up-to-date with your life so your sharing might be more natural and relaxed.

Ritual Expressions of Gratitude

This can be done for family Thanksgiving as well as Friendsgiving. Throughout the year, write things that happen to you that you are thankful for on a slip of paper. Make it a goal to write at least two things per month. For us Dukes, have one jar for your Friendsgiving and the other for your family Thanksgiving and you can bring your jar home and add it to the family jar over break. During your Thanksgiving or Friendsgiving, go around the table and pull out the slips of paper and read them aloud and reflect on those memories with one another.

Special Foods

This one is pretty relatable to anyone. I’m sure everyone has a family member that makes the pumpkin pie every year and one who makes those garlicky mashed potatoes that everyone loves. For your family Thanksgiving I’m sure those traditions will still stand. Maybe this year, volunteer yourself to make a dessert or side. For Friendsgiving, make those special foods a tradition starting this year to carry for the Friendsgiving’s to come.

As stated above, expressing thanks is really good for your emotional health. Hopefully you can try to incorporate these five general categories into your Thanksgiving or Friendsgiving to show gratitude as well as help your emotional health in preparing you for the stressful finals week that is right around the corner after fall break.

Peace, Love and DDP,



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