Thanksgiving… Is it the turkey or the sides?
Neither! It’s the socialization!
Ah yes, this week we are all preparing for a delicious meal and time with friends and family. Such a wonderful time of year. This occupational therapist’s perspective on this holiday is all about the SOCIAL. So much involved in this holiday. It’s definitely about the food and the menu. Who’s bringing what? Who volunteered to bring which side dish? Who is cooking the actually turkey? Is it fresh, or frozen? Fresh cranberries or jellied? Wow, we’ve actually sort of complicated this meal. LOL.
But is it about the meal? You see, the Pilgrims and Native Americans came together… they came together —in peace, to celebrate something. Ohhh! So actually this meal of thanksgiving was a social event! Look at that. An event brought people together and they had a meal as well. That’s how I like to think about it. You see, mealtime is a HUGE social event. To me, Thanksgiving is about being with family and the meal is an added bonus. During mealtime, one social skills involves talking/communicating, even though we are taught not to talk while eating, you have to admit that a lot of talking goes on during a meal. Think of mealtime with your family over a regular weeknight dinner. You talk about: events of day, weather, school, sports, what’s going on in the news, etc. Hopefully we still eat with our families……(J).
Let’s narrow it down to the other social skills learned or practiced during meals:
- Volleying conversation (nice casual back and forth conversation)
- Feelings of universality (we all have things in common, well most of us)
- Perspective taking (understanding from other’s points of view, you don’t have to agree though)
- Sharing (passing items around)
- Turn taking (you might not get the best chicken cutlet that night)
- Eye contact (you got to look somewhere, lol)
So when you sit down to your beautiful meal this week with family, take note. How is everyone sharing? Are people looking at each other when talking? Does everyone fight over who sits next to Pop Pop (at least in my house we do)? Is the best slice of turkey given to someone else or did you take it? Does the last roll go to someone special? And if you were the host or main chef, feel good about yourself when you realize how you helped strengthen or establish good social skills for your family…………after all………….that’s more important than stressing about lumpy gravy!
Mary L. Adolf, M.S., OTR/L