Sunday, November 20, 2011

Thanksgiving and other after-dinner speeches

You may already have been asked to speak after this holiday dinner. If so, now is the time to think and prepare. An after-dinner speech should both entertain and inform. It helps to have a memorable story about where or how the holiday was spent.

In 2005 my sister and brother-in law had Thanksgiving somewhere unusual. Ellen and Tony spent their holiday at the South Pole. They had a turkey dinner in the restaurant at the end of the world.  She sent me a ball cap as a souvenir.  

Another type of story teaches that we should be thankful for what we have, because things always could have been worse.

In 1972 I spent Thanksgiving in Wichita Falls, Texas. I was being trained as a medic at Sheppard Air Force Base. That morning I had a fever and was feeling really lousy, so I went to sick call. The medic who examined me said that I had finally gotten a disease that usually came in childhood. It might have been rubella (German measles). He gave me some Tylenol for my fever, and said, look, we don’t have tech school classes tomorrow, so go back to to your bunk and rest. You’ll be fine by Monday. I was, although I didn’t get to travel as I had planned.    

How could things have been worse? A month earlier our whole squadron (and the one next to us) went through a day and a half long outbreak of food poisoning. Symptoms were nausea and vomiting.

For more ideas on after dinner speeches, look at this recent blog post by Carma Spence, and listen to this Communication Steroids podcast.

Images are covers from the Thanksgiving issues of Puck Magazine from 1905 and 1902.

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