You can’t knock Thanksgiving as a holiday, mostly because it centres around taking a pause from our busy lives to express gratitude for the things we have in our lives that we often take for granted, being so busy and all. Also, it centres on a meal that includes gravy and stuffing. Hallelujah.
But at its core, Thanksgiving is a celebration of gratitude – for the harvest, for family, for community and for cranberries. One thing I know for sure is being grateful and actually expressing it makes your life better, every single day.
Gratitude is a practice that takes practice. For years, I have kept a daily gratitude journal. At the start of each day, I write three things I am grateful for. At bedtime, I write three things that happened during the day that I was grateful for. That way, when the day blows up, nothing goes according to plan and I can no longer tolerate humanity, I have documented the discord for future brooding.
I’m being facetious, of course. Truth is, the dark days force me to find the light, so gratitude reads like this: 1. I did not throw rocks at anybody today. Bonus. 2. I heard the Rolling Stones on the drive home and they can’t get any satisfaction either. 3. My inside voice stopped my outside voice from saying something I’d enjoy but would likely regret later to someone for whom, though deserving of my inside voice, could make my outside life difficult. Saved.
Some days, gratitude is easy. People are kind. There is money in my bank account. No drama. Deadlines get met. I am free and clear from stress. Sometimes I feel a little nauseous at how cheerful I can be on those days. It’s like my inner skeptic turned into Doris Day (Google it) and I’m all “Que Sera, Sera” and whatnot. Freaks me out.
But whether a day is good, mediocre, or downright awful, gratitude is a choice that I insist on making, because being miserable is, well, miserable. Who wants that? Not me. Not Doris Day. And not the Rolling Stones, who are carrying on without Charlie Watts.
Traditionally, on Thanksgiving we share a meal with people we love, or at least tolerate. Yet sometimes, we get so wrapped up in the meal plan or the politics of who’s coming and who’s not, that we forget what truly matters, until the next year when there is one less place setting at the table. We’ve been through a lot these last almost two years, all of us, together and apart, so this Thanksgiving, I hope you’ll pass the stuffing, but also pass the time enjoying your people. Phones down. Present. Grateful.
Or, equally as valid, some of you will choose to stay home, steering clear of difficult family dynamics by setting healthy boundaries for yourself and the family you’ve created. Breaking patterns is hard. Not every family is the Waltons (Google it). So you do you. Your life is already better for making that choice. That’s something to be grateful for.
It turns out simply being grateful every day about something, anything, a whole bunch of things even, actually makes you happier, less anxious and more content, even when it’s hard to have faith. Try it. You’ll like it. Or you won’t. No harm in trying.
Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours, from me and mine.