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11 things you can do to have a Thanksgiving in the true spirit of the holiday.

This Thanksgiving, let your belly be full of love and gratitude ... and pie.

11 things you can do to have a Thanksgiving in the true spirit of the holiday.

The first time a bunch of immigrants and locals got together in the U.S. to eat some home-cooked fowl, it was 1621.

And, according to some historians, it was more like a big, loose, last-minute festival than a fancy sit-down dinner.


This "First Fun Thanksgiving" image via Mike Licht/Flickr (based on original by Jean Leon Gerome Ferris).

They probably didn't even eat turkey! Mostly, they were just really happy to have enough food to eat because life in the new world was rough.

This year, to have a holiday that celebrates this gorgeous season, honors the food and history of our land, and feels full of love (instead of just plain full), here are some ideas to keep in mind:

First, forget the hype and reconnect with the real.

1. Make your understanding of the holiday as rich and studied as the menu.

Why? Because this holiday has a pretty special history! The very first recorded "Pilgrims and Indians" feast, for example, is a happy story, but later meals have a sad and gruesome meaning.

And do you even know that first tribe's name? It's the Wampanoag! Here's a great great summary with some startling information in it and links to learn even more.

And while you're at it, you can teach your kids a real-er story about our country.

This version, for example, is kid-oriented, brain-stimulating, and will make for some cool dinner conversation with the whole family. And you can freak them out with the picture of eel pie.

2. Get your 1621 vibe on.

Think about what that first harvest festival was like. Nathaniel Philbrick points out that to all the pilgrims from Great Britain, where fall is kind of ho-hum, the New England trees turning color would have been shocking and awesome.

Hear his take on the history, in parts 1 and 2. What kind of autumnal appreciating can you do where you are?

3. Try an actual recipe from a Native American tribe.

Slow Food USA offers this neat interactive map and collection of recipes, many of them from Native tribes, organized by region.

Photos from SlowFood USA, used with permission.

When you serve your Wampanoag stewed pompion, add some dinnertime trivia, courtesy of Smithsonian: The first Thanksgiving couldn't have had pumpkin pie as we know it, because they didn't have butter or wheat to make pie crust.

Speaking of planning that menu...

4. Up your veggie-to-meat ratio!

Image by Rebecca Siegel/Flickr.

Whether you're having bacon on your Brussels sprouts or not, you can shop for food that's been raised in a way that cares for the earth. What we eat affects the climate, and raising animals can be tough on a planet! Green things up with gosh-I'm-so-thanksgivingful- for-the-bounty-of-the-earth gusto.

5. Make your turkey a marvel.

For example, you can use this search tool to find a grocery store near you that'll offer Certified Humane poultry. Or get Pilgrim-y and get a heritage turkey. (Again, makes for great table conversation.) Get the whole low-down on turkeys from this this guide.

6. Keep it local.

This is seriously the holiday to support farmers in the region where you live — it's a holiday all about their harvest! See if your grocery store has a "local" section, or find a nearby farmers market. Learn more about where our food's coming from and how to have a 100-Mile Thanksgiving from these rad stats and infographics.

That's a long trip for a little broccoli stalk! Infographic by Sustainable America, used with permission.

7. If it came outta the earth, put it back in!

In other words, compost your potato peels. You know what the Pilgrims always said? "Waste not, want not." Well I'm not sure they said it, but I bet they lived it. Bag up all your veggie trimmings and stems and leaves — and stuff that fell on the ground — as you go, stick it in your freezer, and then take it to a compost collection center near you. I used to promise myself I'd make soup stock with all that stuff, but I'm so tired of cooking after Thanksgiving that I prefer composting the food waste. It helps me feel like I'm respecting the food I'm making not to send any of it into a landfill.

8. Drink well! How about some apple cider from local apples? Or wine grown ecologically?

For guaranteed holiday cheer, my recipe is apple cider from the farmers market, heated on the stove with a cinnamon stick and spiked with bourbon. But if wine's your thing, check out the free guide you can get from Slow Wine.

Finally, make the day after Thanksgiving more wonderful, too.

9. Make better use of that Friday.

Celebrate Buy Nothing Day by … buying nothing. Suggested alternatives to violent stampeding at the mall? A lo-o-o-o-ng walk, catching up on a stack of magazines, a game of soccer or touch football, making an overdue phone call, or finally attempting to make that soup stock with your leftovers.

10. Spend that time with people, places, or things that make you feel grateful.

Need inspiration? Check out the 365 Grateful project.

Just one example of gratitude from 365 Grateful's Facebook page. Photo used with permission.

11. Really commit to your community.

Lots of us suddenly remember how lucky we are, and want to give back by volunteering on Thanksgiving, but places need help year-round. (In fact, many say they can't even offer volunteer shifts to all the people who want to come during the holidays.) Commit to sowing the seeds of gratitude and community throughout the year, with a group you feel as warm and gooey as sweet potatoes about.

And finally, remember to say thanks — to the person cooking dinner or bringing over a side dish, to the grocery clerk, to your ride home, and to whomever you're thankful for now and throughout the year.

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Amazon

Shopping sustainably is increasingly important given the severity of the climate crisis, but sometimes it's hard to know where to turn. Thankfully, Amazon is making it a little easier to browse thousands of products that have one or more of 19 sustainability certifications that help preserve the natural world.

The online retailer recently announced Climate Pledge Friendly, a program to make it easier for customers to discover and shop for more sustainable products. To determine the sustainability of a product, the program partnered with third-party certifications, including governmental agencies, nonprofits, and independent labs.

With a selection of items spanning grocery, household, fashion, beauty, and personal electronics, you'll be able to shop more sustainably not just for the holiday season, but throughout the year for your essentials, as well.

You can browse all of the Climate Pledge Friendly products here, labeled with an icon and which certification(s) they meet. To get you on your way to shopping more sustainably, we've rounded up eight of our favorite Climate Pledge Friendly-products that will make great gifts all year long.

Amazon

Jack Wolfskin Women's North York Coat

Give the gift of warmth and style with this coat, available in a variety of colors. Sustainability is built into all Jack Wolfskin products and each item comes with a code that lets you trace back to its origins and understand how it was made.

Bluesign: Bluesign products are responsibly manufactured by using safer chemicals and fewer resources, including less energy, in production.


Amazon

Amazon All-new Echo Dot (4th Gen)

For the tech-obsessed. This Alexa smart speaker, which comes in a sleek, compact design, lets you voice control your entertainment and your smart home as well as connect with others.

Reducing CO2: Products with this certification reduce their carbon footprint year after year. Certified by the Carbon Trust.


Amazon

Burt's Bees Family Jammies Matching Holiday Organic Cotton Pajamas

Get into the holiday spirit with these fun matching PJs for the whole family. Perfect for pictures that even Fido can get in on.

Global Organic Textile Standard: This certifies each step of the organic textile supply chain against strict ecological and social standards. Each product with this certification contains 95%-100% organic content.

Amazon

Naturistick 5-Pack Lip Balm Gift Set

With 100% natural ingredients that are gentle on ultra-sensitive lips, this gift is a great gift for the whole family.

Compact by Design (Certified by Amazon): Products with this certification are packaged without excess air and water, which reduces the carbon footprint of shipping and packaging.


Amazon

Arus Women's GOTS Certified Organic Cotton Hooded Full Length Turkish Bathrobe

For those who love to lounge around, this full-length organic cotton bathrobe is the way to go. Available in five different colors, it has comfortable cuffed sleeves, a hood, pockets, and adjustable belt.

Global Organic Textile Standard: This certifies each step of the organic textile supply chain against strict ecological and social standards. Each product with this certification contains 95%-100% organic content.

Amazon

L'Occitane Extra-Gentle Vegetable Based Soap

This luxe soap, made with moisturizing shea butter and scented with verbena, is perfect for the self-care obsessed.

Compact by Design (Certified by Amazon): Products with this certification are packaged without excess air and water, which reduces the carbon footprint of shipping and packaging.

Amazon

Goodthreads Men's Sweater-Knit Fleece Long-Sleeve Bomber

For the fashionable men in your life, this fashion-forward knit bomber is an excellent choice. The sweater material keeps it cozy and warm, while the bomber jacket-cut, zip front, and rib-trim neck make it look elevated.

Recycled Claim Standard 100: Products with this certification use materials made from at least 95% recycled content.

Amazon

All-new Fire TV Stick with Alexa Voice Remote

Make it even easier to access your favorite movies and shows this holiday season. The new Fire TV Stick lets you use your voice to search across apps. Plus it controls the power and volume on your TV, so you'll never need to leave the couch! Except for snacks.

Reducing CO2: Products with this certification reduce their carbon footprint year after year. Certified by the Carbon Trust.

In the hours before he was sworn in as the 46th president of the United States, then-President-elect Biden was sent a letter signed by 17 freshmen GOP members of the House of Representatives.

In sharp contrast to the 121 Republican House members who voted against the certification of Biden's electoral votes—a constitutional procedure merely check-marking the state certifications that had already taken place—this letter expresses a desire to "rise above the partisan fray" and work together with Biden as he takes over the presidency.

The letter reads:

Dear President-elect Biden,

Congratulations on the beginning of your administration and presidency. As members of this freshman class, we trust that the next four years will present your administration and the 117thCongress with numerous challenges and successes, and we are hopeful that – despite our ideological differences – we may work together on behalf of the American people we are each so fortunate to serve.

After two impeachments, lengthy inter-branch investigations, and, most recently, the horrific attack on our nation's capital, it is clear that the partisan divide between Democrats and Republicans does not serve a single American.

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If the past year has taught us nothing else, it's that sending love out into the world through selfless acts of kindness can have a positive ripple effect on people and communities. People all over the United States seemed to have gotten the message — 71% of those surveyed by the World Giving Index helped a stranger in need in 2020. A nonprofit survey found 90% helped others by running errands, calling, texting and sending care packages. Many people needed a boost last year in one way or another and obliging good neighbors heeded the call over and over again — and continue to make a positive impact through their actions in this new year.

Upworthy and P&G Good Everyday wanted to help keep kindness going strong, so they partnered up to create the Lead with Love Fund. The fund awards do-gooders in communities around the country with grants to help them continue on with their unique missions. Hundreds of nominations came pouring in and five winners were selected based on three criteria: the impact of action, uniqueness, and "Upworthy-ness" of their story.

Here's a look at the five winners:

Edith Ornelas, co-creator of Mariposas Collective in Memphis, Tenn.

Edith Ornelas has a deep-rooted connection to the asylum-seeking immigrant families she brings food and supplies to families in Memphis, Tenn. She was born in Jalisco, Mexico, and immigrated to the United States when she was 7 years old with her parents and sister. Edith grew up in Chicago, then moved to Memphis in 2016, where she quickly realized how few community programs existed for immigrants. Two years later, she helped create Mariposas Collective, which initially aimed to help families who had just been released from detention centers and were seeking asylum. The collective started out small but has since grown to approximately 400 volunteers.