As we approach the Thanksgiving holiday here in the U.S., there are many reminders for us to pause and give thanks. This can be a lovely time to reflect on what we are personally grateful for. You might take some time in your holiday preparations to sit with a cup of tea and reflect on what you’d like to give thanks for this day. Then take a note card or index card and write down your gratitude statement or intention.
Another wonderful tradition is to have “I am thankful for” cards on your Thanksgiving table or a side table. Last year, we had them on a side table and family members anonymously wrote a short list of what was filling their hearts with gratitude that day. Then, after our meal, we took turns reading them aloud. We laughed over the repeated items, like, “I am thankful for pie,” and felt warmed by the expressions of gratitude for each other’s presence in our lives.
I have noticed in our extended families that with all of the hustle and bustle of the day — the Turkey Trot, the parade, the football games, and the cooking — that the prayer or blessing at the start of the meal is often given just a quick once over. Sometimes it is our standard grace that is said and sometimes, in the more secular part of our family, we just dig right in to the food. This year, I’m hoping, with some advanced planning, to create a blessing to share before our meal. I think one that is customized to the holiday, those gathered together that day, and that touches on our personal blessings (especially in light of our personal challenges) — will be a meaningful start to our meal and bring the blessings of our universe to our family and our holiday. (I’ll share in a post after the holiday, what we created.)
Indeed, a gratitude practice can be powerful anytime of year and I encourage you to make this a daily habit. I have observed for myself how a grim point of view can be gently moved along by reciting the many things I am grateful for. When I’m commuting, for example, I often start with the first thing that I notice. I start with, “I am grateful for this warm coat.” Then I’ll go on to “I am grateful for safe transportation.” And from there I’ll continue with, “I am grateful for good music, great books, the people who create them, publish them, and the ability to enjoy them.” As you get deeper into your gratitude practice, you’ll notice that there is an infinite list of things to be grateful for — you just have to start acknowledging them — even the tiniest and seemingly insignificant things. They matter too.
What are your experiences with Thanksgiving traditions and blessings? Do you have a gratitude practice? Please share your experiences and thoughts in the comments below.
Wishing you a blessed Thanksgiving! I am so grateful for you!