Should Turkeys Decide on Thanksgiving Dessert?

What came to mind when you read the title of today’s post?

Actually, what I am more curious about is whether you understand what I mean when I write “Should turkeys decide on Thanksgiving dessert?”

As we in the United States begin to think about our Thanksgiving tradition, much of our communication seems to get lost in our ability (or inability) to create shared meaning. This has really been on my mind a lot because I have been asked by 4 separate groups recently if I would facilitate a Stop/Start/Continue session for cross functional teams who are struggling as they work together.

If you are not familiar with the concept of Stop/Start/Continue sessions, click here to learn about it.


As I think about teams creating shared meaning together, I really like what Chip and Dan Heath write about in their book The Power of Moments. They have some interesting research showing that for groups of people, creating shared meaning is about "highlighting the mission that binds the members together and supersedes our differences.”

When thinking about organizations, many teams could benefit from time to focus on the greater mission that they are on together.

As we in the United States look forward to our Thanksgiving celebration with family and friends, the same focus might be needed.

The question I think we would all do well to consider this Thanksgiving is:

When is the last time you laughed together as a group?

Your knee jerk reaction to that question might be simply the last time someone said or did something funny. Turns out, this answer is mostly wrong.

According to Robert Povine, a neuroscience researcher at the University of Maryland, laughter has more to do with relationships than with the actual joke. Povine’s research shows that people are 30 times more likely to laugh in social settings than when they are alone.

Laughter, it seems, is more about relationships than humor.

As you read the title of the blog post today, you might not have laughed out loud, but if you asked this question at your Thanksgiving meal, what might happen amongst the group?

Could something as simple as a silly question create a positive shared experience that results in deeper connection, and perhaps even the awareness that we are part of something bigger than ourselves?

You might not have a joke or a funny story to share around your table (although you could see what kind of reaction the question from the title of this post might get), but I want to share my top 10 thoughts on Thanksgiving from some research (albeit, internet, not scholarly journals) I have been doing on the topic.

Please feel free to borrow one of two of these thoughts as you engage your colleagues or family this week. In fact, why not turn the TV off for an hour and just talk about the holiday?

Who knows, you just might create some shared meaning and connection in the process.

Without further adieu, here are my Top 10 thoughts about Thanksgiving:

  1. Most people will enjoy a 40% shorter work week in celebration of the holiday.

  2. 42 million of you will travel at least 50 miles or more this weekend. (American Automobile Association)

  3. 4,500 Calories will be consumed by the average American on Thanksgiving Day. (Calorie Control Council)

  4. Over 100 million of you will gather with you family and friends and watch as many as 15 hours of television.. Approximately 75% of this viewing will be watching the triple header of NFL football.

  5. 91% of Americans will eat turkey on Thanksgiving Day. (And, if you are like my family, for days and days after.)

  6. Tryptophan is an amino acid found in turkey meat that is often blamed for the drowsiness after a Thanksgiving Meal. However, turkey contains the same amount of tryptophan as most other meats, so the drowsiness is likely from all the carbohydrates causing an increase in melatonin in your brain. When this happens, you get a bit sleepy.

  7. Abraham Lincoln is credited with proclaiming the first Thanksgiving Day.

  8. An overabundance of turkey (about 260 tons) is the inspiration for TV dinners. To get rid of all the turkey, a salesman at Swanson Company filled 5,000 aluminum trays with turkey, corn bread dressing, gravy, peas, and sweet potatoes. In their first year of production, the 98 cent dinner sold 10 million units. 

  9. 50 million pumpkin pies will be eaten on Thanksgiving Day.

  10. Black Friday is not only a busiest shopping day of the year, but according to Roto-Rooter, it is also the busiest day for plumbers.

Happy Thanksgiving!