When I was younger, Thanksgiving was a special holiday – one filled with great food, reflections on gratitude and pie-fueled family football games.

It wasn’t just a prelude to the overall holiday season. It was a special time in and of itself. For me, it defined November the same way Halloween defined October – and the same way Christmas defined December.

But as I’ve grown older, Christmas has taken over much of Thanksgiving’s territory. Black Friday is now Black Thursday-evening, and Christmas decorations can now be found as early as November 1.

This festive take-over is not only harmful to the continuation of Thanksgiving traditions, but it’s also harmful for our minds, as we mentally jump to the end of the year as soon as the leaves begin to change.

Recently, I’ve been learning a lot about mindfulness from my wife, Lyndee, who is a licensed marriage and family therapist. This therapeutic technique is defined by paying purposeful attention to the present moment without judgment.

While meditation could traditionally be thought of as a way to clear one’s mind, mindfulness is all about exploring one’s present thoughts and surroundings without any judgment.

After having gone through a couple mindfulness meditations, I can say that the present moment has more to offer than I realized. There’s so much to sense – not only in our own bodies, but in our surroundings. So much to hear, so much to smell, so much to take in.

Practicing awareness of this present moment has a lot to offer when it comes to benefits, as well. According to the Centre [sic] for Mindfulness, benefits include increased focus, improved memory, increased cognitive flexibility and decreased stress, anxiety and depression. It also allows us to become better at regulating our emotions as we better recognize the thoughts and feelings that are there without immediately labeling them either “good” or “bad.”

While I’m sure Lyndee would roll her eyes at my argument, I’m going to use mindfulness as a reason to fully appreciate Thanksgiving before jumping into Christmas.

As you prepare your food, eat your pie and argue about sports with your in-laws, take some time to appreciate the moment you’re in. Remember that Thanksgiving is its own holiday – and November is its own month.

Christmas will have its own dedicated time – the whole month of December, if you’d like. Remember to leave some time for gratitude, turkey and family football games.

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