Thanksgiving celebrations this year are going to be different for many of us. The bigger the celebration in the past, the more different it is going to be.
The pandemic has forced us to do many things differently. For example, I no longer facilitate leadership workshops in person. I am now fluent in Zoom.
I am grateful that many of my clients have decided to move to a virtual format because I like working, eating, and paying my electric bill. However, I resisted the idea at first. How could I possibly recreate the in-person experience?
News flash! I can’t. I cannot make it the same. However, I did make it good. Different isn’t always bad.
We still start with an ice breaker exercise to get everyone communicating and in a positive mood. Now we answer questions using markers and blank paper. We hold up our answers for everyone to see. It’s fun! I love reading everyone’s responses and learning more about each person.
The group doesn’t get to visit at breaks the way that they did when we met in person, but they still get lots of opportunities to talk with one another. I talk less and let them talk in breakout rooms a lot more.
One of my most brilliant ideas was to send each participant a welcome box that contains the handouts and other items they need for the exercises that we do. They get Play-Doh and kazoos because there is no reason why we can’t continue to learn and have fun.
Some things I do the same. Others, I adjust. Some are newly created. The change in format motivated me to evaluate things I’ve done for more than a decade. It was a gift that got me to be more creative than I’ve been in years.
We can look at Thanksgiving in the same way. It’s not going to be the same, but it can still be good! With a little creativity and the wonders of modern technology, we can still celebrate and be grateful.
College kids and grandparents can read stories via Zoom, Skype or FaceTime to children whose parents are busy fixing a meal.
Taking turns sharing stories on various topics would be fun. I’d like to hear stories from my sons, daughters-in-law, and grandchildren about the time that they had the most fun in water, what skills they are proud of, and the most memorable trip they ever took.
If memorable doesn’t have to mean fun, I’m pretty sure my sons would tell about the time they went to sleep on a sofa bed that was covered with hundreds of ticks. That was memorable – and funny now that enough time has passed.
A family show-and-tell or art show would also be fun!
I’d also like the chance to tell people what I appreciate about them. I’d like to hear what they appreciate about me. Deeper conversations can happen with a little prompting. It’s an easier thing to manage when it’s done in a virtual format.
We just have to let go of insisting that Thanksgiving must be the same in order to be good. In fact, it can be different – and wonderful.
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