Catalogs, store fliers, magazine articles, and recipe books presume to offer it: “All you need to make a perfect Thanksgiving!” By now most of us have the “stuff” that typically goes into Thanksgiving: the food, the festive napkins, the centerpiece, etc. We’ve unearthed the ginormous serving tray from the basement and dug out the carving set. We’ve taken down the box that holds Grandma Rose’s old gravy boat. And we’ve likely ironed out the logistics of the occasion: when guests will arrive, when the turkey will go into the oven, and who will bring what. We’ve straightened the house, cajoled the kids to make their bedrooms presentable, and maybe the more ambitious and organized among us have even made a dish or two ahead of time.
Some of us tomorrow will be hosting large gatherings or perhaps celebrating with just immediate family, a partner, or a friend. A few of us will eat alone. Others of us will be guests in friends’ or families’ homes or part of larger groups hosted by religious or neighborhood communities.
This week we shared recipes for making a more primal dinner , but we know that Thanksgiving is about more than the menu. (Reader emergefit, you beat us to the punch . We couldn’t agree with you more.) The Primal Blueprint  is ultimately about living the best life possible. It’s about maximizing your workout with minimal duration to allow more time with family, friends and fulfilling personal pursuits. It’s about eating healthily enough that – in the short term – we maintain the immune systems that keep us going when others are down for the count with the latest bug and – in the long term – we put real life in our years and don’t have to sacrifice time, finances, grief, and life opportunities to the burdens of avoidable disease and decline. The Blueprint is about reducing the impact of stress by taking advantage of the best relaxation practices and by taking real inventory of our lives to see what matters and what doesn’t. Where is our life energy going? Is this where we want it to go? What do we want more of in our lives? You could say that the holiday tomorrow is an apt reminder of that suggestion.
Our culture and even individual responsibilities sometimes encourage us to get so caught up in the practical operation of the holiday that we can find ourselves shuffling through the motions, hitting all the obligatory dishes and events, but never really touching down emotionally or interpersonally. It’s likely that some of us have previously taken the lesson and pared down or honed in on what we deem the most essential of the holiday. (The gathering, the gratitude, the giving of time….)
In this hectic part of year the suggestion bears repeating – and revisting. Carpe diem, take the bull by the horns – whatever you want to call it. Enjoy the moment – the company, the conversation, the chance to connect and tell stories new and old. Start some fresh traditions or revive some old ones (a pre-dinner family game of touch football, an after dinner walk, an evening around the board games or family albums, an evening of volunteering). Whether you’re alone or with a whole horde, here’s to making the most of the day in such a way that we’ll all go to bed that night fulfilled (not just full), inspired, at peace, nostalgic, and grateful for the day instead of just relieved the dishes are done or glad we made it through.
It’s true that there’s something about a holiday meal itself – the variety, the rich flavors, the calm (and flurry) of annual preparation rituals, the deep-seated emotional associations and memories. Nonetheless, the day has the potential to feed us in ways the best turkey or family recipe can’t. We’re all coming to the day from different settings and with different situations. Whatever you’ll be doing, wherever you’ll be celebrating, whatever you’ll be looking back on or looking forward to in the spirit of thankfulness, we all wish you the best for your holiday.