Happy Thanksgiving (and other conversation starters)
Thanksgiving Day is getting closer. Relatives, friends and neighbors that might get together at most, once a year, will gather for a feast. If this is how you will spend your day, you may need to prepare yourself to have a calm and zen day. After all, the point of the day is to give thanks for what you have, not to be anxious and uncomfortable.
Avoid these conversations:
The news, politics, religion, reviewing the faults of others, questions like "So when are you going to start a family?" and definitely avoid any divisive topics. If your family and friends enjoy and expect to have those types of conversations, that's okay. Let them talk.
Try these conversation starters:
-I hope to visit (Paris, London, Toronto, Tokyo, Atlanta) someday. I understand you've been there. What can you tell me about it?
-What are the features I should look for when I replace my car/television/refrigerator? There are so many choices. (Of course you can Google it - that's not the point)
-I have a new hobby. Has anyone else tried.....?
-We really like the new city park. Has anyone else been there? Let me tell you about our day.
-My car made a weird noise yesterday. What do you think would cause that?
-This appetizer is delicious. Can you tell me how to make it?
-I might set up an aquarium in my apartment. What do I need to do to get started? (if someone present has an aquarium!)
Encourage others to talk about pleasant topics by asking about their experience. Then listen. Asking questions and ignoring the answer is not a genuine interaction. And you might even learn something. You might learn that the person has interests, talents, and dimensions that you otherwise would not know existed.
There could be one or more people, possibly teenagers (but not necessarily) that are staring at their phone and not interacting with anyone at all. Don't mention it, but you can ask them to help serve a course or help with the dishes, or keep an eye on a small child for a short time (male and females alike.) Even something as simple as "Can you help me get this chair over to the table? We have a lot of people here today! Thanks so much!" may help someone to understand that they are part of the group and not invisible. It's true that some folks prefer their phone over people and some folks hide behind their phone when they don't know how to socialize with the group.
If the weather cooperates, get as many people outside as possible to play a game with the younger guests (for example, toss a Nerf football, don't play an actual game of football) or take a walk around the neighborhood as a group to walk off some of that pumpkin pie.
And at some point, early in the morning, during the day, or after the festivities, take time for mindfulness/meditation.