November’s mood of the month is gratitude, which means to give thanks and appreciation. As Americans, we prepare early in the month for the national holiday of Thanksgiving, a day for Americans of every nationality and background to express their gratitude for all that we are blessed to have in our lives: family, friends, health, homes, jobs, and food. The “First Thanksgiving” was celebrated by the Pilgrims after their first harvest in the New World in October 1621 and was attended by 90 Native Americans and 53 Pilgrims. The meaning of the holiday has changed over the centuries, but the core principles remain: Thanksgiving is a day of gathering, a time to reconcile differences, a time to heal and a time for hope. Like the gathering of the Pilgrims and Native Americans who shared in a harvest celebration and feast, now more than ever, in this turbulent year, let’s put our differences aside and celebrate each other – not only on this day but for all our days ahead. Let’s reach out to those less fortunate and offer a helping hand. Remember, small gestures can make a big difference.
With Thanksgiving on our minds throughout the month, November is nothing if not associated with food. What better time to cook and share your dishes with loved ones – if you find a new favorite recipe, you’ll all be grateful you did. If you want to stick with a Thanksgiving classic, try Taste of Home’s Sweet Potato Casserole with Pecans– it’s sweet, savory and nutty all in one, delighting all palates. Food52’s Andouille Sausage and Cornbread Stuffing is a slightly less conventional twist on another classic side dish. The sausage’s slight kick combined with sweet fruits makes it a perfect dish for those looking to (literally) spice up their Thanksgiving dinner. Finally, once the meal is over (and if you haven’t gotten your pie fill already with the apple and pumpkin varieties), enjoy all your leftovers in a new way with Food Network’s Thanksgiving Leftovers Hand Pies. The classic next-day turkey sandwich is a staple, but there are plenty more ways you can find a new taste for the foods you know and love.
Veteran’s Day is observed on November 11, so be sure to thank a veteran (or multiple) for their service and courage. You can also show your gratitude for the planet on November 15, which is National Recycling Day. Take the opportunity to reflect not only on your recycling habits but all the conscious choices you can make to live sustainably and preserve the resources we thrive on. Of course, gratitude abounds on Thanksgiving, which falls on November 28. Whether you’re having a large, plentiful gathering with family and friends or a casual, simple meal, take a moment in between bites to reflect on those who may be lacking it, and perhaps look for opportunities to volunteer at food pantries or shelters in the coming days to pass your time and share your resources with others. Similarly, in between your Black Friday and Small Business Saturday errands on November 29 and 30, thank the cashiers and business owners who provide us with the goods you get to enjoy. We’re all people, and for many of us, a small, sincere “thank you” at an unexpected moment can go a long way.