Editor’s note: In solidarity with Native and Indigenous communities, Shareable recognizes and condemns the continued and historical colonial violence perpetuated by the American Thanksgiving myth.
Along with this acknowledgment, we share an understanding that — for many people — the scope of the holiday season stretches beyond this traditional observance, serving as a time of communal gathering, shared gratitude, and rest. Below are some ideas for having a community-driven, gratitude-inducing holiday, the Shareable way.
For many, the impetus of the holiday season is the promise of family and food. But you can remix these staples and get creative with your gathering ideas as well. Away from family? Host a Friendsgiving. New to the neighborhood? Opt for a Stranger Dinner. Put your meal to music and have a house concert instead.
Some areas even have community meals, open to anyone who wants to gather with their community-at-large. These gatherings are a great way to meet your neighbors, connect with your community, and share in the abundance of the holiday. Contact your city officials or search the web to see if there’s a Thanksgiving community meal in your town.
If you want to get out and get involved, local turkey drives, soup kitchens (and even Buy Nothing groups) are great ways to share and distribute extra food and other essentials to community members who could use it.
Share skills & stuff
Have a skill you’d like to offer to others or maybe just some free time? Now is a great time to share.
The holidays can be a hard time for many. Struggles like food insecurity, houselessness, and social isolation mean not everyone has the same reasons to celebrate. If you have the time, capacity, and resources to share, you could make a big difference by offering them to those in your network and community.
The National Coalition for the Homeless has extensive resources and a database to find a shelter near you, but many volunteer opportunities are based on local needs. Check with organizations in your area to find out what you can do to help your community with its immediate needs. You can also use the holiday season as a springboard into year-round volunteer work. VolunteerMatch connects volunteers with a number of nonprofits and community programs.
Honor Native & Indigenous perspectives
November is Native American Heritage Month. One way we honor Native communities and their experiences is by unlearning false accounts of history and standing in solidarity with Indigenous progress.
Since 1970, Native activists and other allies have gathered at Plymouth Rock to hold National Day of Mourning demonstrations that challenge the genocidal “pilgrim mythology” at the heart of traditional Thanksgiving celebrations. The 53rd Day of Mourning will take place Thursday, November 24. This year, the celebration will be live-streamed on Facebook and also covered live by The Red Nation.
You can practice solidarity (and help others in your network do the same) by amplifying Native actions like these and learning from Native thought leaders like Nick Estes, Rebecca Nagle, Dallas Goldtooth, and others.
Practice gratitude year-round
You don’t have to wait until Thanksgiving rolls around to give thanks. You can practice mindfulness and gratitude year-round. The holidays are a great time to introduce these concepts to the whole family as well. The Imagination Tree and We Are Teachers offer a host of free arts and crafts ideas and activities for children to get the gratitude ball rolling.
Explore other ways to share and connect
Did you know that we have an archive of over 300 how-to guides? How To Share has a cornucopia of resources that can help you share everything from food to transportation to time and housing — a number of which can be modified for any holiday celebration. Take a look and get sharing!
This article has been updated and amended from an earlier Shareable article.