With Thanksgiving only two weeks away, I’ve been giving a lot of thought to gratitude. After all, giving thanks is what the holiday is all about. We know that people who feel gratitude and express their gratitude to others often are not only happier, but also healthier.
Although we should all be practicing an attitude of gratitude every day, we often forget to do so. We get wrapped up in the busyness of life, tending to family, home and our careers, rushing around so much that we can barely catch our breath. We tend to focus on our problems and all that is not going our way, rather than on our blessings and all that is working for us.
I have always taken for granted that my entire family is together on this day, but this year I feared my daughter wouldn’t be with us. Dyana moved to LA a few months ago, and didn’t think she would be able to get the time off from her new job to make the trip back to NJ. How thrilled and grateful we were to find her new bosses are caring and sympathetic. They totally agreed she should be with her family. So yes, we will be together not only for Thanksgiving Day, but for the long weekend as well.
Thinking about the possibility of my daughter not being at our holiday dinner table made me realize how important it is to not take anything about this day for granted. I am blessed with a large family who will all be together, enjoying the plentiful food and each other’s company.
I’ve given thought to some special ways to celebrate this year and give thanks, and I’d like to share them with you. What better time than Thanksgiving Day to stop and spend a few moments acknowledging all that we have to be grateful for and all that surrounds us on this special day.
1. Call a relative or friend who is far away to say “Happy Thanksgiving.” If you have loved ones who you can’t be with on Thanksgiving Day, pick up the phone and call them. No emails, Facebook or text message! Let them hear your voice when you say, “I am grateful to have you in my life.”
2. Share your blessings with those less fortunate than you. If your plans afford you the time early in the day, visit a soup kitchen to serve meals to the needy. Or perhaps you can donate Thanksgiving leftovers to a homeless shelter.
3. Ask your host or hostess what you can do to make the day easier. Even if told everything is under control, an offer to ease the load will show you appreciate all they are doing to make the holiday special.
4. Rather than bringing the typical hostess gift, bring something personal. There are just so many cake plates any one household needs! When you show up with something personal that will pamper the host, he or she knows that you really understand the work and effort it takes to put together the holiday dinner.
5. Start a tradition of beginning the meal with gratitude. Choose something that is personally meaningful for your family. For some it will be saying grace. For my family, each guest has the opportunity to say what they are most grateful for.
6. Send a hand-written note expressing thank you to your host family. We all remember to say “thanks” as we’re walking at the door. We may even send a quick email message the next day. The hand written note is a lost art, and taking the time to write and send it not only gets noticed, but also shows your gratitude is heartfelt.
7. Send a holiday message or package to our servicemen and women. If you are blessed enough to be surrounded by family and friends on Thanksgiving Day, don’t forget that many of the men and women serving our country are not. You can send a Thanksgiving message through http://www.USO.org or a package through http://aholidaywish.org.
By expressing your gratitude on Thanksgiving Day, and every day, not only will you make those around you feel great, you’ll boost your own health, happiness and well-being.