Expanding Our Thanksgivings: A Weekend of Authentic Connection

On the day after Thanksgiving, many Americans climb out of bed extra early, bleary-eyed, to hit the stores. We take on masses of other eager shoppers, seeking sales on everything from televisions to smartphones.

Why do we do this?

Sometimes, whether or not we observe Christmas, we’re just looking to score a good deal on something that we want, on this day of exceptional retailer competition. But often, we’re simply looking to connect with other human beings. Through buying our loved ones the perfect toy, gadget, tool, or item of clothing, we hope to express our affection. When we give a gift, we often hope to get affection in return.

Our search for connection and affection makes sense, especially considering that Americans have been growing lonelier for a number of years now.

To add to the irony, many of us are already tired from a previous day or more of intensive cooking, entertaining, and cleaning. Some of us enjoy doing these things (this includes me on occasion), and sharing deliciously prepared food can be very intimate. But some of us grudgingly go overboard trying to impress those around us, trying to make everything just right. After all, it’s rare that we see some of our loved ones, so we want to show them that we care. Through these rituals, as with the shopping, we’re simply looking to connect.

But what if there were more ways to connect with others, some of which are far more direct and profound for many of us?

There are indeed many ways to give and receive affection outside of gifts. As I mention in Naked Idealism, the popular Five Love Languages model includes words of affirmation, acts of service, quality time, and physical touch alongside gifts. Some people do prefer gifts, but this style of connecting does not fit everyone. And don’t forget that there are at least a dozen types of intimacy.

I’m not saying that we should altogether drop our shopping, boycott retailers for a day as some people already do, or anything of that nature. Particularly if our dollars are going to businesses that put back into the community, exercise sustainable business practices, and the like. And I’m certainly not suggesting that we do away with any cherished family Thanksgiving rituals.

What I’m suggesting is that we look at how much we’re really connecting with other people through our actions around the holidays, if that is what we’re truly seeking. And if we’re not feeling much love, if we’re instead feeling largely stressed out, we might wish to devote some of our time to connecting in other ways.

Weekend of Authentic Connection logo

My challenge to you is to consciously set at least one intention for meaningful, authentic connection on the Friday, Saturday, or Sunday right after Thanksgiving.

Identify a person or people with whom you want to connect, and then identify how you wish to connect. Then share your plans via the Facebook Weekend of Authentic Connection event page, or in the comments below. Your plans may inspire others!

It can be very simple activity that occupies only half an hour and involves one other person. Or, it can be a more complex event that lasts a whole day and involves a number of people. It’s totally up to you; the important part is that it is both fun and nourishing for you. Here are just a few possibilities:

  • Go out for a walk with a relative or friend you haven’t seen in a while. Spend some time talking.
  • Play a game together with loved one(s).
  • Host a snuggle event or massage trade party with friends.
  • Go out to coffee or brunch with someone.
  • Host a Happiness Sprinkling. (I’ve participated in two of these, and had a great time connecting with people–other volunteers as well as passers-by.)
  • Call a relative or friend you haven’t spoken with in some time.
  • Do some simple, leisurely baking with a friend or relative, and invite a few neighbors over to eat with you.

If you use your imagination, the possibilities are endless!

What is your plan for a Weekend of Authentic Connection? Feel free to share your plans on the Facebook Weekend of Authentic Connection event page or in the comments below, as you may inspire others to get more connected in their own lives. (I’m currently exploring a few possibilities including a Happiness Sprinkling.)

Dave welcomes phone-based life, career, and transition coaching clients from around the world.

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