by Frances Rahaim, Ph.D.
aka "The Money Doctor"
What was once a feast provided by a large group of people, has become an expenditure of astronomical portions for many families. Still, we look forward to our American holiday steeped in tradition, complete with football, holiday conversation, and everything delicious that goes with cranberry sauce.
Although I wasn’t present at the first Thanksgiving– I’m not quite that old, I'm fairly certain that it wasn't just one Pilgrim who shot the turkey, cooked the meal, and cleaned up after dinner.
The point I'm trying to make is, although nearly everyone hosting a Thanksgiving dinner would decline an offer of monetary assistance from family members due to the sense of pride and tradition that surrounds this holiday feast, sharing the burden, particularly in tough economic times may be the loving thing to do. The expense and work involved in preparing such an extravagant meal is often too much or one or two people to manage comfortably.
Perhaps Aunt Esther is gaining in years, but won't tell you that she is exhausted at the end of the day. Or maybe someone has suffered a job change or cutback lessening the household income. Or, the family tradition has been handed down to the younger generation, who may be struggling financially just to make ends meet, but is too proud to mention.
Many families turn to credit cards to handle the additional financial burden, and then spend months if not years paying on that debt.
An offer of help is often declined by way of habit. Sometimes people just don’t know how to say, “Yes, thank you. I need the help.” Rallying the troops before Thanksgiving Day and coordinating some sort of family potluck dinner might be just the answer needed to ensure that everyone enjoys Thanksgiving -- including the host.
Uncle Frank makes the best mashed potatoes, cousin Anne makes the best cranberry sauce, Joe’s turkey is amazing, and everyone saves room for Terri’s blueberry pie. When everyone brings a dish, we are all truly sharing the meal, and alleviating much of the financial weight.
Don’t want to offer money, or can't cook? You can still schlepp the groceries from the store to the kitchen, set the table, or do the dishes afterwards. But please don't just offer help like some sort of gesture, actually DO it. And see if you don’t form a new holiday tradition of your own, and increase the enjoyment of your holiday in the bargain.
No matter what, please remember to take everything in moderation including spending, and to give thanks for all you are grateful for on this most wonderful of holidays.
Maybe invite someone who has nowhere to go, or is without family to your home for the day, or volunteer at one of the many facilities in the area.
Happy Thanksgiving. Save a drumstick for me!
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