Today was Thanksgiving. Or, this year, Thanksgivukkah—when Thanksgiving and the first full day of Hanukkah are celebrated on the same day. It is a very rare occurrence, one that won’t happen again in our lifetime, and reminds us to celebrate life, liberty, family and religious freedom.

Boston Mayor Thomas Menino said, when pronouncing November 28, 2013 as “Thanksgivukkah Day,” by celebrating this rare occasion, “it shows that we’re working together to improve our society, to understand our differences and to make a stronger world.”

Thanksgiving dinner picture
“The Last Thanksgiving” has a family seated around a table. Each person is labeled with a conflicting dietary need like “Vegan,” “Lactose-Intolerant,” and “Super-picky gourmet.”

This can also be said of the meetings and events we plan daily. From association conferences to corporate board meetings, industry tradeshows and gala celebrations to birthday parties and food festivals, we invite people every day from around the world to join us at our tables to celebrate, learn or network around a common purpose.

Regardless of the purpose of the event or the demographics of your participants, as event professionals, we are committed to providing an environment where everyone is treated with the same courtesy, respect and dignity.

That same reverence should be given to those of participants with special dietary needs or preferences. Take the cartoon above by Roz Chast which appeared in the New Yorker as an example.

Although it depicts Thanksgiving dinner, that table of 10 could be placed at any event on any given day. It is how we, as event professionals, choose to embrace the conflicting diet regimens of our participants that reflect upon how professional we are. Their needs are no longer a fad or a trend, but the norm.

We should give thanks to our event participants for having chosen to spend their money and time attending our events or we can leave them hungry at the table.

It’s our choice.