A Sensibly Selfish Thanksgiving

A Sensibly Selfish Thanksgiving


10 min read


The air is filled with the anticipation of Thanksgiving—a time traditionally associated with warmth, family, and gratitude. Yet, for women over 45, this holiday can also bring a unique set of challenges and expectations. Picture this: the pressure to host the perfect dinner, meet everyone's expectations, and dance the delicate tightrope of family dynamics, just the thought is enough to make you stressed. In the midst of planning, preparing and presenting, it's easy to lose sight of what truly matters - being thankful. But fear not! This Sensibly Selfish guide is here to help you not just survive but thrive during Thanksgiving.

Make Your Traditions

Thanksgiving is a time-honored tradition, but that doesn't mean you're bound by the same script every year. Reflect on where your traditions have come from, who decided upon these concepts? What can you break away and create your own Thanksgiving traditions? Did you know for example that Turkey was not on the menu for the first Thanksgiving in 1621?

Lydia says: “Three weeks of stress leaving up the Thanksgiving used to invariably mean I would end up in bed wth some bug. One bout of bronchitis too many and I decided that enough was enough. Out went decorations, turkey and gifts in favour of a time away from home where I could also relax and enjoy family space.”

View your Thanksgiving as a canvas where you can paint your own traditions. Whether it's a themed dinner, a family hike, or even a solo retreat, making the holiday uniquely yours can infuse it with a fresh, invigorating spirit.

Saying No

As the calendar turns to November, a flurry of invitations often descends, each promising a unique slice of Thanksgiving joy. It's a heartwarming aspect of the season, but for many women, it can swiftly morph into a daunting juggling act. The desire to please everyone, attend every gathering, and fulfill every request can become an overwhelming source of stress.

Isa Says: ‘Every year I found myself entangled in the web of obligations, trying to be in two places at once and feeling the weight of countless expectations. The pressure to be everywhere and please everyone reached a crescendo, and it felt opposite to the essence of Thanksgiving. My will to live, gratitude and joy, were slipping away.

Amidst this chaos, I stumbled upon a powerful lesson: the art of saying no. It's a skill that requires cultivation, a conscious shift from being a perpetual yes-woman to someone who recognizes the importance of setting boundaries. I discovered the liberating power that comes with uttering a simple, yet firm, ‘No’. NO, has so many forms: no I am not buying gifts this year, no I am not cooking the whole meal, etc etc, the No space I created has kept me sane ever since."

Saying no during the Thanksgiving rush is not a rejection of others; it's a compassionate choice to safeguard your mental and emotional well-being. In the spirit of Sensibly Selfish living, it's an acknowledgment that your energy is a precious resource that deserves protection.

To gracefully decline invitations without guilt, consider expressing gratitude for the invitation. Acknowledge the warmth and thoughtfulness behind it, emphasizing the value you place on the relationship. Then, if you wish, gently explain the need for self-care during the holiday season, citing the desire to fully appreciate and enjoy the gatherings you do attend.

A helpful strategy is to offer an alternative way to connect. Suggest a coffee date, a post-Thanksgiving lunch, or a video call to catch up. This not only shows your commitment to maintaining relationships but also reinforces the idea that saying no to one event doesn't mean saying no to the relationship as a whole.

Remember, saying no is a declaration of autonomy over your time and energy. It's a crucial step towards preserving the true essence of Thanksgiving—gratitude and connection—while ensuring you enter the holiday season with a sense of calm and authenticity.

Asking for Help

During Thanksgiving, there's often an unspoken expectation for women, to seamlessly embody the role of the perfect hostess.

Chloe says: “I vividly recall a time when I succumbed to this societal pressure, believing that a flawless Thanksgiving rested solely on my shoulders. The weight of that self-imposed burden threatened to overshadow the joy of the season.

It was during one particularly hectic Thanksgiving preparation that I had an epiphany: the image of the perfect hostess is a myth. Realizing that seeking help doesn't diminish one's ability to create a warm and inviting gathering was a game-changer. It enhanced the experience for everyone involved.”

Can you reflect on a specific instance where enlisting support, whether from family, friends or even hiring help, transformed the dynamics of your Thanksgiving celebration? Perhaps it was the year you asked your sister to bring her renowned side dish or invited a friend to assist with the pre-dinner preparations. Such a small shift in approach can not only lightened your load but also enriched the holiday spirit.

It is time to release the notion that you must do everything yourself. It's a common misconception that can lead to stress and exhaustion. Delegate specific tasks to guests based on their strengths and interests—assigning Aunt Susan the dessert, for example, or having a cousin in charge of setting the table.

For those open to external help, the benefits of hiring assistance for cleaning or cooking cannot be underestimated. Investing in support allows more time for meaningful connections and a focus on the joyous aspects of the holiday. Collaborating with others, whether within the family or through professional services, also brings a sense of camaraderie and shared responsibility.

Ultimately, the essence of Thanksgiving lies not in the perfection of the hostess but in the shared moments of gratitude and togetherness. Embrace the beauty of collaboration, find joy in the collective effort to create a memorable and enjoyable celebration. In doing so, you'll not only enhance your own experience but also contribute to a more authentic and meaningful Thanksgiving for everyone involved.

Don't Compare to Others

In the age of social media, the temptation to compare our lives, especially during the holidays, is ever-present. The allure of perfectly curated Thanksgiving scenes on Instagram or the glossy images in magazines can create an unspoken pressure to match up. When you scroll through a friend's meticulously staged dinner spread or flipp through a magazine showcasing a seemingly effortless family gathering how does it make you feel? These images represent carefully curated snapshots rather than the messy, authentic reality of holiday of normal celebrations.

Fern says: “I once found myself ensnared in this web of comparison, feeling the need to measure my Thanksgiving celebration against these seemingly flawless depictions.It was during one such moment of comparison that I learned a valuable lesson—the beauty of imperfections. The unique charm of my family's Thanksgiving didn't lie in perfect table settings or flawless recipes; it resided in the laughter, the shared stories, and the genuine moments of connection. Embracing the real, messy, and beautiful aspects of Thanksgiving brought a sense of authenticity that curated images could never capture.”

It is time to appreciate the uniqueness of your own family and circumstances. Each household has its quirks, traditions, and cherished moments that contribute to the richness of the holiday. There's no one-size-fits-all template for the perfect Thanksgiving, and attempting to conform to an unattainable standard can rob the celebration of its true essence.

Consciously acknowledge and appreciate the unique qualities that make your celebrations special. Whether it's a quirky family tradition, a beloved recipe passed down through generations, or the warmth of familiar faces around the table, these are the elements that define a truly meaningful Thanksgiving.

In essence, the holiday isn't about comparing your celebration to others; it's about reveling in the authenticity of your own. By embracing the imperfections and celebrating the genuine moments, Thanksgiving becomes a heartfelt expression of gratitude for the love, connection, and uniqueness that make each family's celebration truly special.

Help a Charity

Amidst the hustle and bustle of Thanksgiving preparations, there's a profound opportunity to infuse the holiday with a sense of purpose and connection to the community—by giving back. The act of extending a helping hand during Thanksgiving is a practice that transcends the boundaries of one's dining table, reaching out to touch the lives of those in need.

Penny says: “Several years ago, I made a conscious decision to incorporate acts of kindness into our Thanksgiving traditions. The idea was simple yet profound—to use this season of gratitude not only to appreciate the abundance in our own lives but also to share that abundance with others. We chose to volunteer at a local charity that served Thanksgiving meals to those experiencing homelessness and food insecurity.

The impact of that decision was immediate and profound. As we served meals and engaged in conversations with individuals facing challenging circumstances, a deep sense of gratitude and humility enveloped us. The simplicity of a shared meal became a bridge that connected our lives with theirs, transcending societal divides and fostering a sense of shared humanity.”

Consider similar acts of kindness that you can incorporate within your own Thanksgiving traditions. Volunteering at a local soup kitchen, donating to a cause you're passionate about, or organizing a family or neighborhood initiative to help those in need can be powerful ways to give back. Such gestures, regardless of size, have a ripple effect, not only touching the lives of those directly involved but also creating a positive impact on the community as a whole.

The transformative power of giving extends beyond the immediate satisfaction of helping others; it elevates the spirit of the holiday itself. The joy and fulfillment derived from acts of kindness become an integral part of the Thanksgiving experience, enriching the celebration with a deeper, more meaningful layer. While personal satisfaction is a natural byproduct of giving, the true magic lies in the collective elevation of the holiday spirit, fostering a sense of community and interconnectedness that extends far beyond the confines of our individual lives.

In embracing the practice of giving back, Thanksgiving becomes not only a time for personal reflection and gratitude but also a beacon of light that illuminates the path toward a more compassionate and connected world. It's a powerful reminder that the essence of the holiday extends beyond our immediate circles, resonating with the broader community and amplifying the spirit of generosity that defines the true meaning of Thanksgiving.


As we wrap up this Sensibly Selfish approach to Thanksgiving, let's distill the essence of our shared wisdom, making your traditions, saying no, asking for help, avoiding comparisons, and incorporating acts of kindness.

Make Your Traditions: Be the artist of your celebration, paint with the colors of your traditions. Remember, the beauty of the holiday lies in the unique brushstrokes you add, creating a masterpiece that reflects the authenticity of your family's joy.

Say No: Recognize the liberating power of "no." In setting boundaries and choosing self-care, you're not rejecting others; you're affirming the importance of preserving your mental and emotional well-being. Saying no is an act of self-compassion that paves the way for a more fulfilling holiday season.

Ask for Help: The image of the perfect Thanksgiving hostess dissolves when you embrace the beauty of collaboration. Seek support from family, friends, or hired help without reservation. Delegating tasks and sharing responsibilities not only lightens the load but enhances the collective experience, transforming the holiday into a shared endeavor.

Avoid Comparisons: Release the temptation to compare your Thanksgiving to online curated images. Each family is a unique composition, and the beauty lies in the imperfections—the laughter, the mishaps, and the genuine connections that form the heart of your celebration. Embrace your family's idiosyncrasies and cherish the authenticity of your own holiday experience.

Incorporate Charitable Acts: The act of giving back transcends the boundaries of your dining table, infusing the holiday with purpose and connection. Whether volunteering at a local charity, donating to a cause, or organizing a community initiative, the transformative power of giving extends beyond personal satisfaction, elevating the spirit of Thanksgiving for all involved.

The Sensibly Selfish Approach: As we conclude, let's echo the central theme—an invitation to embrace a Sensibly Selfish approach to Thanksgiving. In a world often dictated by societal expectations, prioritize self-care and authenticity. Your Thanksgiving should be a reflection of your values and a source of genuine happiness.

An Empowering Message

The Thanksgiving holiday is not merely a tradition to uphold but an opportunity for personal growth, joy, and connection. Celebrate on your terms, guided by the principles of self-love and sensibility. In doing so, you craft a Thanksgiving that resonates with your authentic self—a true recipe for a thriving holiday season.

May your Thanksgiving be woven with gratitude, joy, and the empowering embrace of a Sensibly Selfish heart. Cheers to celebrating the holiday season on your terms and finding genuine happiness in the moments that matter most.