We are in the midst of one of the most difficult years this country and the world has seen in decades – the challenges of the economy, the irreversible issues of climate change, mounting healthcare costs, two complicated wars…plus our own personal challenges. During times like these it’s often difficult to look on the bright side and count our blessings. Yet in the midst of so much chaos blessings remain everywhere, and it is important that we acknowledge and share them not just on Thanksgiving Day, but every day.
As you gather around your dinner table on Thursday, whether you’re celebrating Thanksgiving or just a regular family meal, there’s no better way to share the blessings you have with others than by talking about them. So this year stand up, speak up…and drink up.
Give a Toast at Thanksgiving Dinner
Here’s a Thanksgiving invitation for you: Give a toast at Thanksgiving dinner. Why? Aside from it being a nice thing to do, it will also give you a chance to practice your presentation skills. You will have a chance to practice your content development skills (even with a message as short as a toast) and your delivery skills (never overlook an opportunity for this!). Best of all you will have a rapt and attentive audience to support you, and you’ll be adored for volunteering and letting others off the hook. You simply can’t go wrong!
The Custom of Giving a Toast
The custom of giving a toast is believed to have come from the ancient Greeks who, as the story goes, drank from the same goblet to avoid being poisoned by other dinner guests. The clink of glasses serves a similar purpose. When the glasses clink together, the liquid inside each spills over into other people’s glasses. This protects all guests from any attempt to poison them.
A typical toast has three parts: 1) The speech itself, 2) an agreement or acknowledgement by the group and 3) the long awaited imbibing….with bubbly.
To help you plan your Thanksgiving toast, follow this model: an anecdote followed by a statement of goodwill. For example:
“In honor of Thanksgiving I would like to say a few words. This has been a challenging year for our family (give a few examples), but in the midst of our struggles there have been many joys (more examples,). Let’s give thanks for our struggles, which make us stronger and wiser, as well as our joys, which make us richer and more content. Here’s to a great reunion of family and friends…and the many blessings that we share.”
Wait for the group to acknowledge the toast with smiles, laughter or phrases, such as “Hear, hear.” And then take a long or short sip.
Six Quick Toasting Tips
- Plan your toast in advance and practice it out loud ahead of time.
- Develop a beginning, middle and end.
- Stand up and hold your glass slightly off to the side.
- Keep your toast under two minutes.
- Don’t tell jokes unless you’re good at them.
- Speak slowly in a loud, clear voice…and smile.
It is said that a toast is made to complete the cycle of the five senses: sight, smell, taste, touch and hearing (with the sound of glasses tinkling). Giving thanks this Thanksgiving with all our senses is an opportunity not to be missed.
I want to wish everyone in our American community a Happy Thanksgiving, and to those international readers, Happy Thursday (if it is Thursday where you live). In any event, in the U.S. we celebrate Thanksgiving Day to give thanks…and that’s not a bad habit to get into every day of the year.