Reinventing Thanksgiving: Creating new traditions and embracing change.

Show Notes:


Valerie reflects on the changes that occur during the holiday season, particularly when long-held traditions are disrupted. She discusses the emotions that can arise when family dynamics shift, such as when children get married and start spending holidays with their in-laws. Valerie encourages listeners to embrace these changes and turn them into opportunities for growth and new traditions. She offers tips on how to navigate these shifts with grace and positivity, including being open to new possibilities, focusing on the people rather than the place, expanding horizons by volunteering or inviting new friends, reflecting on past Thanksgivings, and compromising on alternating holidays between families. Valerie also emphasizes the importance of self-care during this time and encourages listeners to focus on nurturing new traditions and cherishing time together.


00:00 Introduction to the podcast episode

00:39 Reflecting on changes in family dynamics during Thanksgiving

01:54 Tips for embracing change and creating new traditions

03:29 Managing expectations and acknowledging feelings

04:46 Being open to new possibilities and focusing on people

05:18 Expanding horizons and volunteering

0:07:03 Reflecting on past Thanksgivings and being thankful

08:53 Compromising on alternating holidays between families

09:55 Bonus tip: focusing on self-care

11:07 Embracing growth and change during the holiday season

Key Takeaways:

  • Embrace change and be open to new possibilities for creating meaningful traditions.
  • Focus on the people and connections rather than the physical location.
  • Consider volunteering or inviting new friends to fill empty seats at the table.
  • Reflect on past Thanksgivings and create digital photo albums to cherish memories.
  • Alternate holidays between families to blend old and new traditions.

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(00:00:03) - Hello beautiful ladies. Welcome back to another episode of Five to Thrive. I'm your host, Valerie Hatcher. Our mission is to provide empowering tips for women over 50 to help us navigate this vibrant stage of life with grace, style, and a whole lot of fun. Each week, I bring you five practical and engaging tips on a specific topic. I hope you find them relevant and relatable and we'll come back for more. Ready for today's episode? Then let's go! Hey there gorgeous ladies, today we're diving into the heart of the holiday season. As Thanksgiving approaches, I find myself reflecting on how our celebrations evolve over time. From empty seats at the table to new faces joining in at times, the holidays are a time for family, food and tradition. But what happens when long held traditions get upended? So let's talk about embracing these changes and making the most of our Thanksgiving. No matter how different it may look, Thanksgiving is a time for family, gratitude. And of course, that delicious turkey dressing, sweet potatoes, and the rest of the fixings.

(00:01:24) - But what happens when your family dynamic shift, like when your son gets married and start sharing holidays with his in-laws? This year, my son won't be with us for Thanksgiving, and I know I'm not alone in this experience. I'm not the first, nor will I be the last. It's a new chapter for many of us, filled with mixed emotions. Today we're going to talk about how we can turn the situation into an opportunity. How do we embrace change, create new traditions, and keep the spirit of togetherness alive even when we're apart? So grab your favorite cup of tea, get cozy, and let's explore this journey together. Over the past decade, my own Thanksgiving table has seen many changes. About nine years ago, we had to say goodbye to my dad. I remember how his laughter would fill the room and how he'd expertly carved the turkey, a tradition that he eventually passed to my husband. I remember the first Thanksgiving without him. Invite a lot of people over just to try to fill that gap.

(00:02:39) - We've also seen young ones grow up like my cousin, who was practically raised as my sister. She spent every Thanksgiving with us since she was eight. She's now 27. Boy, does time fly. She's now graduated from college. She's moved away, and now she goes home to San Antonio with the rest of the family for Thanksgiving versus coming with us. And then this year, my son John won't be joining us as he celebrates with his in-laws. Is not about feeling sorry for ourselves, it's about acknowledging these transitions as a natural part of life. My mom, husband and I will definitely make the most of the day eating, watching football, and of course, shopping sales online. Managing expectations. Let's acknowledge the feelings. It's okay to feel a little sad or nostalgic. Our family traditions are precious and changes to them can tug at our heartstrings. The temptation is to dread differences rather than accept them. But here's a thought what if we view this as a chance to grow both for ourselves and our loved ones? I'm trying to focus on gratitude rather than loss.

(00:03:58) - I'm so grateful that my son is found a wonderful partner to share his life with. If you're facing Thanksgiving with empty chairs or divided families, remember you're not alone. But how do we navigate these shifts with grace and positivity? Here are a few tips. Number one. Be open to new possibilities and lean into changes rather than resisting them. Starting new traditions can be meaningful. Maybe it's a pre Thanksgiving lunch or a special family gathering on another day. Emma, one of our listeners shared how she started hosting a Thanksgiving brunch instead of a dinner. It became an annual event that everyone now looks forward to. So why not try something similar? Remember, it's not about the date on the calendar, but about the love and laughter that we share. Number two, focus on the people and not the place. So why not set up a video call during Thanksgiving? You know, zoom is big these days. Share a toast. Show off your culinary skills, but just keep the connection alive. And most importantly, embrace flexibility.

(00:05:21) - Families evolve over time, so think about it. How have you adapted to changes in your family celebrations? What new practices brought joy to your Thanksgiving? Now have a story about when this didn't go quite as well. My first Thanksgiving after being married, we didn't travel home. My husband worked in retail at the time and always had to work the day after Thanksgiving. We were about six hours from home, so we stayed in our city. It was my husband and I and his uncle. Now, keep in mind, neither my husband nor his uncle did a lot of talking. I was used to a bunch of people trying to talk over each other on holidays. So I called home and I could hear everyone together laughing and having a good time. Of course, I burst into tears. Everyone was together without me. Well, from that day on, my parents came to us for Thanksgiving. Of course, every situation isn't like mine. Adapting to change is part of the journey, and that's easy for me to say 29 years later.

(00:06:42) - Okay, back to our tips. Number three. Expand your horizons. If your table feels a bit empty, consider volunteering at a local shelter or inviting new friends who might be far from their families. It's a great way to start a new kind of family tradition. We've done this in the past one year. We invited some friends. They're kids, and my hairstyle is all of whom either didn't have family in town or maybe just wanted a little stress free change. Another one of our listeners, Linda in Ohio, shared her story about when her daughter first spent Thanksgiving with her new in-laws. Linda said she felt so lost, so she invited her neighbors, who were new to the area and had no local family. She said it turned out to be one of the most memorable Thanksgivings that they've ever had. Number four. Reflect and be thankful. Taking time to reflect on past Thanksgivings has always brought me a deeper sense of gratitude. We can use this time to think about the great memories that we've shared and the new ones that will create.

(00:07:58) - Maybe put together a digital photo album on something like Google Photos, and everybody that's there can upload photos they took. This allows you to look back and everybody's photos and laugh and remember what a great time you had. I plan to take a few minutes in, reflect on the great young man that my son has become and how proud I am of him and his new life. I know it's a bit mushy, but it's true. Or I can reflect on how I should have had more than one child, and maybe someone would have stayed with me for the holidays. I'm just joking. Okay. Well, sorta. Tip number five compromise on alternating holidays between families. Blending old and new rituals keeps everyone included. I remember my cousin and her husband used to visit his family for Thanksgiving, and they'd do Thanksgiving at Christmas and Christmas at Thanksgiving, and then they would be with her family on Christmas. Now they have Thanksgiving at her house, and his family comes to town, and her family comes over. So everyone gets to enjoy spending time as one big blended family.

(00:09:23) - As a matter of fact, in the midst of all my whining, I forgot to tell you that my son is going to his in-laws for Thanksgiving because they'll be with us for Christmas. So I'm excited about this as it gives his new wife an opportunity to meet a lot of our family members that she hasn't met yet. So it's not all bad, it's just different. And I have to realize that her family may be having the same feelings on Christmas Day. Now I know I usually stop at five, so it's five tips, but I have a bonus tip this time. So this might be a perfect opportunity to do something for yourself and focus on self care. We're usually so busy planning, cooking, and serving that we are exhausted by days in I know I am. So how about diving into that book that you've been meaning to read, or catching up on the shows you've been meaning to watch after football games, of course, or while you're online shopping? How about picking out a few things for yourself that self care? Looking ahead changes and easy, but it opens the door to new experiences.

(00:10:45) - Remember, our children's lives are evolving and as they grow, our roles shift from being the center of their universe to a cherished guide and supporter. This Thanksgiving will certainly look different for our family. But as the saying goes, change is the only constant in life. Let's celebrate their growth, our resilience, and the endless possibilities that life offers. I'm focused on nurturing new traditions together as we enter this next phase, and I know that the love that binds us remains even as life marches on. I'd love to hear how your Thanksgiving traditions have evolved. Have you started new practices or found unique ways to honor those who can no longer join your table? Share your stories with me and let's inspire each other with our creativity. There you have it, ladies. Transitions test traditions, but they also represent growth. Remember, life is about growth and change, and each season brings its own beauty. The holidays are about cherishing time together, wherever we may be. I look forward to what new memories will make this season.

(00:12:10) - Let's embrace every moment with a thankful heart and an open mind. I'm taking next Tuesday off from the podcast to spend time with my mom. We'll pick back up on November 28th. Until next time, stay thankful and stay fabulous. From our family to yours. Happy Thanksgiving. Thank you so much for joining me for Five to Thrive Tuesday. If you haven't already done so, please subscribe so that you don't miss an episode. If you enjoyed the segment, please rate, review and share it with a friend. Let's stay connected on Instagram, Facebook and or threads at I Am Valerie Hatcher or email me at Hello at Aging with Grace and style. Until next time, let's continue to age with grace, style and a touch of sass.

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