2020 is the year to reinvent Thanksgiving — by giving back

We're already reshaping the holiday to fit 2020; why not recreate it to fulfill a bigger purpose?

The Thrive Global Community welcomes voices from many spheres on our open platform. We publish pieces as written by outside contributors with a wide range of opinions, which don’t necessarily reflect our own. Community stories are not commissioned by our editorial team and must meet our guidelines prior to being published.
Vic Hinterlang/ Shutterstock
Vic Hinterlang/ Shutterstock

The history of Thanksgiving as it was taught to us in elementary school is famously inaccurate and much darker than even most adults realize. And this Thanksgiving, situated as it is in a week of skyrocketing COVID-19 cases across the U.S., is going to look different for most of us. The upside? While we’re protecting our families from a pandemic and recalibrating the holiday to fit into our new realities, we also have the opportunity to create new traditions, ones centered on community and creating impact. Here are three new traditions to consider adding to your family’s annual feast day:

Create an Impact Plan and share it with your family. Take this time of reflection to get ahead of the new year resolution train, and approach your goals for the oncoming year with intention. We all want to “do good” in the world, but what does that look like? Our new book, Impact: A Step-by-Step Plan to Create the World You Want to Live In, will walk you through all the steps of this process. To simplify this for your dinner table, take turns identifying your one big impact goal for the year ahead as well as one or two smaller actions you want to incorporate into your life. For example, you might decide you want to host a fundraiser for your favorite nonprofit by this time next year, and in the meantime, you’re going to cut out single-use plastics, or buy holiday gifts that support minority-owned or women-owned businesses. Nothing is off the table! Next Thanksgiving, you can all check in and share your impact success stories.

Read about and share the true history of Thanksgiving. We can only fully understand our history as a country when we understand the oppression and eradication of indigenous peoples and culture at the core of its birth. As part of your annual tradition, you can read a book or share articles with one another, or go to an exhibit at your local museum or cultural center. You can read about the Native American tribe who historically lived in your area, and research ways to support their current-day tribe. Finally, you can take the advice of Chef Sean Sherman of The Sioux Chef’s Indigenous Kitchen and ensure your table reflects the local foods cultivated and celebrated by indigenous populations for thousands of years.

Use the holiday to connect with your community. If you have a few days off together, could you use the time to volunteer as a family? Hunger is an epidemic in our country. Taking a few hours to deliver groceries or work at a food kitchen will not only bring you closer to one another as a family, it will also help you to better understand your own local community. (For proof of that, here’s an article our friend Opal Vadhan wrote about her experience volunteering for World Central Kitchen for months during COVID-19.)

However you decide to celebrate this Thanksgiving, do it with intention and an eye toward creating impact. It is, after all, a wonderful excuse to embrace gratitude, community, and connection. And your example will inspire others to do the same—we guarantee it.

Share your comments below. Please read our commenting guidelines before posting. If you have a concern about a comment, report it here.

You might also like...


A Time for Thanksgiving

by Nancy J. Miller

Stress-Free Ways to Spark a Joyful Conversation at Your Thanksgiving Table

by Marina Khidekel
Esther Moreno Martinez / EyeEm / Getty Images
Thriving Through the Holidays//

12 Often Overlooked Things To Be Thankful For This Thanksgiving

by Marina Khidekel

Sign up for the Thrive Global newsletter

Will be used in accordance with our privacy policy.

Thrive Global
People look for retreats for themselves, in the country, by the coast, or in the hills . . . There is nowhere that a person can find a more peaceful and trouble-free retreat than in his own mind. . . . So constantly give yourself this retreat, and renew yourself.


We use cookies on our site to give you the best experience possible. By continuing to browse the site, you agree to this use. For more information on how we use cookies, see our Privacy Policy.