Thanksgiving is the holiday that is marked with turkey dinners accompanied with stuffing, cranberry sauce and lots of pies for dessert. We decorate the home in fall’s festive shades and bounties; pumpkins, gourds and flowers in orange, red and yellow. Autumn leaves might bedeck the wreaths on the front door.
Last year, though, Thanksgiving was probably not so normal. Maybe gatherings were smaller. Many ate dinner alone. Without loved ones, without family. This year, as we sip the seasonal pumpkin spiced latte and cook those turkey dinners and bake all sorts of sweet and savory pies, we should take a few extra steps back to appreciate the blessings of today.
Some families might still be struggling with unemployment; while unemployment rates are much lower than they were during the peak of Covid, more than seven million people remain unemployed. Others may be finally emerging from the cocoon of fear that gripped so many during Covid. Yet, some may simply be continuing on to pursue a normalcy that seemed to be put on pause for so long.
For those who find themselves stuck between the need to enjoy normalcy and the slow creep of fear, this Thanksgiving may still feel a bit different. Gatherings may still be limited. Some may just include immediate family. Others may hunker down solo.
Many families, however, may once again put extended leaves on the dining room table and gather together once more. No matter how you celebrate or with whom you celebrate Thanksgiving, it’s the time of year to start a gratitude project.
Yes, families can still bedeck their home with pumpkins and gourds, but let’s also add a gratitude jar. This isn’t anything difficult, it’s the easiest DIY project in fact. Just grab a Mason jar, and decorate it for fall (if you desire). Cut out strips of paper. Grab a pencil.
This year, when the family gathers or even if it’s just you, write something that makes you thankful. For everyone else, encourage them to write their own gratitude moment.
Feeling ambitious? Make a habit to add another slip each day until next Thanksgiving. This means that each day, something new must be appreciated.
Often, we may worry and stress about everything that hasn’t gone right. We may worry about work, our children, our children’s grades. Maybe the check engine light just popped on in the car.
There always seems to be something lurking around the corner. Some new to-do items. Some extra cost.
Yet, after nearly more than a year-and-a-half in the midst of a pandemic, many of us probably realized that there’s also so much to appreciate. Maybe walking out in nature caught us face to face with a deer. Or perhaps we saw a bald eagle soaring in the sky.
Maybe we’re thankful for a vaccine. Or a mask. Perhaps we’re thankful for customers…for those who own their own business.
Every day I think of something that adds joy to life. Even if it’s small. Maybe the only thing that brings joy one day is a tiny dandelion with a head full of fluff. Just don’t forget to make a wish. No one’s too old to wish on dandelion fluff!
Maybe the gratitude is for good food. Maybe it’s for a warm house. Every one of us is grateful for something. And each day brings more gratitude.
As we prepare wonderful bounties of food and sit down at the table, there is so much before us that is of greater meaning than we know. A dinner. A warm home. Friends. Family.
Thanksgiving marks the beginning of the winter holiday season, and, of course, Black Friday begins the crazy shopping of that season. As we hit the stores, perhaps we’ll stroll along sipping a pumpkin spiced latte. Looking for that perfect present.
Maybe the crowds will frustrate us once again. Maybe there will be no parking spot. Perhaps we’ll skip Black Friday completely and just shop online. And order that latte to go.
Perhaps this year, many of us will be so absorbed back into those old holiday habits that we’ll begin to forget how much changed. How much is still changing. And maybe that moment, that second of old normalcy will be the greatest gift of the season.
As the countdown to Thanksgiving begins, prepare for gratitude. Wrap it up and appreciate as you would that joyful first taste of a festive fall pumpkin spiced latte. And perhaps that latte will mark the first moment of thanks. That old familiar spicy warmth that begins the season of friends, family, loved ones, and, hopefully, the return to normal.