Thanksgiving. The first in a string of holidays occurring in the months of November and December; a time of celebration, family, exchanging gifts, eating good food, and many other traditions. As we age, the way we celebrate holidays tends to change. We celebrate with new loved ones and families, and we create our own traditions that we may eventually pass on. For me, Christmas is the one holiday when I will always make sure to see my dad and my sister, and there are certain traditions around that holiday that will always stay close to my heart. But in the years since leaving home for college, Thanksgiving is a holiday that has changed yearly. I’ve spent it with relatives, with friends, with soon to be in-laws, with co-workers, and this year, I’ll spend it in Austin, away from my closest friends and family. For anyone out there who is celebrating Thanksgiving in a place that is new and maybe a bit foreign to them, or alone, here are some things I’m doing this year to help make it a day that I truly enjoy.
Do something special to mark the occasion
Make the day different from just any other day. Get up early and watch the sun rise in a beautiful spot, or wait until later in the day and watch the sun set. Visit a place you’ve been dying to see. It doesn’t need to be far – a local park, or scenic overlook will do just fine. It doesn’t even need to be a place you’ve never been – maybe you have a special spot you visit from time to time, but not as often as you’d like. Whatever it is, it will set the day apart from your regular routine and give you something to look forward to. Take a journal when you go and write down the things you’re thankful for. You’ll be amazed at how healing this can be – putting it in words forces you to acknowledge all of the amazing things about your life. Just being where you are in that moment, breathing, is something in itself.
Get dressed up for yourself
It may sound silly, but getting dressed up for no one but yourself can make you feel so good. Not only will it make you feel like you do actually have somewhere to go, but wearing something that makes you feel good will do just that – make you feel good. It wasn’t until I started working at Free People that I understood this concept. I was — and let’s be honest, probably always will be — a sweatpants and t-shirt kinda girl, but at Free People, I began to see what fashion really is… a way to express yourself. It’s something you can have fun with, get creative with, use to showcase what is inside, under those layers of fabric and skin. And that is something to be celebrated.
Make your own Thanksgiving meal
I’m going to shock anyone who knows me right now: I’m starting to cook. After years of picking meals up on my way home from work or eating out, I’m learning to cook for myself. Coming up with my own meal for Thanksgiving is a challenge that I’m excited to take on. It definitely won’t be your traditional Thanksgiving dinner, but for me that’s ok, because the only part of the traditional Thanksgiving dinner I ever really liked was the stuffing (I’m a vegetarian so turkey is automatically excluded from my options). There’s a salad that I started making recently that I’m sure will be a part of my meal this year. It’s super simple and oh so delicious – recipe below.
Kale & Brussels Sprout Salad with Toasted Almonds and Dried Cranberries
Makes 1 serving
1 handful kale
8-10 Brussels sprouts (depending on their size)
1 handful almonds
1 handful dried cranberries
Dressing of choice – I’ve been loving this Lemon and Shallot Vinaigrette
Chop Brussels sprouts into halves or quarters. Coat pan with olive oil and add Brussels sprouts, a dash sea salt, pepper, and balsamic vinegar for flavor. Saute on medium-high heat until slightly browned and crispy. I like to add the handful of almonds during the last minute or so of cooking, to get them nice and toasted and mix the flavors together. Rinse the kale and tear into smaller pieces, and top with the Brussels sprouts and almonds, a handful of dried cranberries, and a drizzle of vinaigrette. Enjoy!
Put on some tunes
Did you really think I could get through a whole post without mentioning music? There’s nothing I can say to fully stress its importance in my life. It has the power to amplify any situation, to take it to the extreme, be it happy or sad. On this day, surround yourself with music that you love, that brings a smile to your face and reminds you of all of the best things about life. I’ve included a playlist of songs that do just that for me, below.