What comes to mind when you think of Thanksgiving Day? Turkey? Pumpkin pie? Football? Family? Did you know that Thanksgiving is ranked one of the most favorite holidays celebrated in America today?
My guess is because it’s not a holiday of material gifts but rather a day to take a breath from the season’s hustle and bustle and gather with loved ones (although during this pandemic year we are restricted to just six people around the table or those immediate family members who live in our household). It’s also an opportunity to reflect on all that we are grateful for, despite a very challenging year for many, thus far. Ideally, we should practice gratitude year-round, in good times and bad, but at least we have Thanksgiving, one day, every year, to serve as a reminder of the importance of gratitude.
Make it a point this week, this month, and this entire holiday season to show gratitude, no matter how busy our life is. Perhaps a surprise thank you note for the dry cleaner, a cup of coffee for a helpful co-worker, a pat on the back for someone needing encouragement, and so on. In fact, the busier we are is when we should stop and take time to reflect gratitude the most.
Start a gratitude journal. Log into a blank journal or jot down on a yellow pad, every day, three things that you feel grateful for. Reflect quietly upon your day, every day. It’s astounding to see that sometimes an otherwise insignificant day could be quite charming through grateful eyes.
The magnificent colors of an autumn landscape, a crackling fire in the fireplace, neighborhood children playing, and so on. These are the kind of things we all should embrace for celebration. The beauty in the quiet moments all around us right now.
You must open your heart to see or hear them, or you will miss them, but I assure you, they are always there. Even amidst our darkest hours, there are little rays of sunshine still hidden in there.
Keeping a gratitude journal helps keep you connected to the good in the world around you. There is something so wonderfully comforting and stress relieving about putting pen to paper in a positive light. It lifts away all anxieties even if only for the moment. I call it gratification for the soul.
Add some new traditions to your Thanksgiving celebration this year. Pass around a gratitude journal between meal courses for your guests to sign and share what they are grateful for this year. Take a plate of hot food to an elderly or homebound neighbor. Donate food to a local shelter or donate your time on Thanksgiving Day to help cook and serve at the shelter.
In my home, we all sign a table runner with a fabric pen, listing our name, the year and what we are most grateful for. We use a different color pen for each Thanksgiving Day celebrated, so it has become quite a colorful and heartwarming conversation piece over the years.
During this special time at the start of the holiday season, let me share with you a favorite poem. Consider reading this as you sit down to enjoy your holiday dinner:
Come to the garden alone, while the dew is still on the roses…for this is the garden of your daily living. Plant three rows of peas: Peace of mind, Peace of heart and Peace of soul. Plant four rows of squash: Squash gossip, Squash indifference, Squash grumbling and Squash selfishness. Plant four rows of lettuce: Lettuce be faithful, Lettuce be kind, Lettuce be patient, and Lettuce really love one another. No garden is without turnips: Turnip for meetings, Turnip for service and Turnip to help one another. To conclude our garden, we must have thyme: Thyme for each other, Thyme for family and Thyme for friends. Water freely with patience and cultivate with love. There is much fruit in your garden because you reap what you sow.
Let’s all begin a new path in this fast-paced, crazy world by slowing down, smiling more and being more grateful. Extending gratitude is simply being a kind and caring person.
I promise you that by intentionally adding even just a tiny bit more gratitude into your daily life, you will feel so much better and your mere presence will begin attracting all that is good and positive. You will in turn become a better person. Gratitude is contagious and perhaps especially needed in 2020. As we pass warm gestures out to people, those people pass them on…we all benefit. Happy Thanksgiving!