The smell of roasting turkey mixes with the aroma of side dishes being prepared. The table is beautifully set for the family. Thanksgiving is recognized as a time for families to come together, whether families by blood or families made of friends. Who can say what family truly is; family bonds are created through love. Those you love, whether related by blood or not, are your family.
“Thanksgiving Day is a jewel to set in the hearts of honest men; but be careful that you do not take the day and leave out the gratitude.” — E. P. Powell
Count your blessings
Thanksgiving Day is a time of year when we reflect on the blessings we have in our lives. Try this: Each day leading up to Thanksgiving, state out loud at least one thing you are grateful for. Envision the words being written across your heart. Tony Robbins talks about stacking gratefulness—this quiet daily exercise can help you shift into embodying more gratitude.
It is easy to see blessings in the circumstances you like, but can you find the benefit in the events you don’t like? Finding gratitude for a “bad” situation can be challenging, but the gift in finding the silver lining to your cloud is that your perspective about your circumstance shifts, and you find yourself experiencing more gratitude.
On Thanksgiving Day, take a moment to reflect before you dig into the delicious meal placed on the table. Have each person say one thing they are grateful for. As the gratitude flows around the table, each person can share the gratitude of loved ones. This communal gratitude expands everyone’s heart and may become one of the best Thanksgiving traditions in your family.
Creating deeper bonds in your family
Perhaps more than other holidays, we associate Thanksgiving with family. Gathering around the family table is an opportunity to create deeper bonds between family members.
- Adults can share stories about their past, sharing how they felt about the things they experienced. This simple act helps kids understand their parents at a deeper level. Kids love hearing about the challenges and excitement of yesteryear.
- Encourage your children to speak about their hopes and dreams, no matter how outlandish the dreams may seem. When Steve Jobs spoke about building computers in his parent’s garage, did his parents see how far that would take him? Allow your children to dream. Encourage them and share in their excitement.
- Allow everyone the opportunity to communicate at the table. Children can be our greatest teachers when we allow them the space to speak freely. The idea that children should be seen and not heard is an outdated rule. Instead of putting the children to the side at a children’s table, invite them into the adult space. Even the silliness brought by children can be a blessing if we open our hearts to them.
Giving back to your community
“Happiness doesn’t result from what we get but from what we give.” — Ben Carson
Many families are struggling to have sufficient food. There are myriad ways you can help families who don’t have the resources to create a Thanksgiving meal. Volunteering for a few hours at the food pantry can help.
If your time is short, you can still help: Donate holiday food to your local food pantry. It is relatively easy to do. While grocery shopping, fill a bag with items such as:
- Dry macaroni
- Boxed stuffing
- Cranberry sauce
- Canned Pumpkin
- Canned vegetables
- Instant mashed potatoes
Dropping off these non-perishable ingredients to your local food bank can help make a Thanksgiving meal for those who would otherwise go without. It is best to donate non-perishable items because food banks need to maintain high safety standards. Don’t plan to donate a Thanksgiving turkey or donate leftovers from your holiday meal to food banks, as these are perishables.
“Thanksgiving, after all, is a word of action.” — W.J. Cameron
Doing only one of the things suggested in this article can make your Thanksgiving Day a day of action. Purposefully choosing to find a way to be thankful, or allowing someone else to express their gratitude. Gratitude is contagious, this is a contagion you want to experience. And isn’t this what Thanksgiving should genuinely be about?