Can We Live Thanksgiving?
We all remember the story of the meal that brought Native Americans and Pilgrims together. But with the busy-ness of planning the holiday meal, what we tend to forget is the Pilgrims’ deep gratitude for that meal.
This Thanksgiving as we gather around full tables with loved ones to eat turkey with all its fixings, can we lift our eyes from the table, look at each other, and bring into focus our own gratitude?
There’s an old Hausa of Nigeria Proverb:
Give thanks for a little and you will find a lot.
There really is no other national holiday that has the potential to draw our attention to giving thanks as does Thanksgiving.
Looking for Meaning
Can we, in the company of those we love, each give a little thanks and come away from the day with more than just a full belly? Can we, without putting anyone on the spot, find in each other words that surprise us, touch us, inspire us, and sustain our sense of gratitude long after Thanksgiving has passed?
Creating Loving Community
Even if you are not hosting this year’s Thanksgiving, you can develop a sense of connection around the table. Here are ten tools to use as a starting point:
- When it comes to planning, “The Trouble With Thanksgiving Gratitude” will give you practical, realistic ideas for developing a more meaningful Thanksgiving, especially with those who struggle to express their gratitude.
- Prayer starts many Thanksgiving meals. Looking for a prayer that expresses your sentiments, remember: Just as a fire needs space to empower its ability to burn, the simplest prayers can create space for meaning. As Alice Walker has said, “’Thank you’ is the best prayer that anyone could say.” She adds, “I say that one a lot. Thank you expresses extreme gratitude, humility, and understanding.”
- Nature’s beauty can be fleeting – but not through Louie Schwartzbergs’ lens. His stunning time-lapse photography, accompanied by powerful words from Benedictine monk Brother David Steindl-Rast, serves as a mediation on being grateful for every day.
- Don’t just go through the motions. Make a decision to be consciously more grateful yourself. Remember, while you can’t control what meaning others around your table will take away after a shared discussion about gratitude, you can influence it. Offer tiny journals as a take home to guests interested in beginning a daily gratitude journal. For guests who prefer to use technology, there is always the Gratitude Journal.
- Invite reflection on Doctor Deepak Chopra’s comment: “Gratitude opens the door to…the power, the wisdom, the creativity of the universe. You open the door through gratitude.”
- Watch “The Power of Gratitude,” in which Dr. Robert Emmons – the leading expert on gratitude – explains how gratitude has the ability to heal, energize, and change our lives. If you find it interesting, there are six related videos that feature Emmons.
- For more cynical family members and friends who need to see just how powerful gratitude can be, have them check out the infographic “What Good Is Gratitude?”
- If the holidays stress you out, “Why Helping Others During the Holidays Helps You” may give you a new perspective.
- There is nothing like a favorite song lyric to drive a feeling of gratitude home. Here are “Some Songs To Listen To This Thanksgiving Holiday.”
- Remember, each life is like a seed planted. What you do, how you act, and the feelings you evoke at your table today will likely be a memory for someone tomorrow. For the youngest around the table, “One Seed” will remind them of the importance of planting a seed. It might just get everyone, young and old, singing and dancing. It’s not only a great tool for connecting generations around the table but also for encouraging a bit of singing and dancing.