Posted tagged ‘Thanksgiving’

Being thankful and sharing thanks

November 20, 2018

She had tears in her eyes as she listened to my son read a letter to her. It was part of a seventh grade “gratitude letter” project. My son chose to write to his fourth grade teacher, telling her how much he appreciated her and how she had a positive impact on him.

Sitting at a nearby table to give them privacy, I witnessed first-hand the power of expressing gratitude.

It took trust for his teacher to meet him, without knowing why they were meeting. It took courage for my son to read a gratitude letter out loud to his teacher, not knowing how she would react. He didn’t even let me read it before setting up the meeting with her.

Later, she came up to me and told me that she had recently been feeling a little down about teaching, and my son reminded her that teaching is so worthwhile.

This experience reminded me that while we have many people and things to feel grateful for, we also need to share thankfulness with other people.

A gratitude letter is both simple and powerful.

  1. Reflect on someone who helped you or did something for you, someone you are grateful for but to whom you may not have expressed your gratitude. It could be a relative, friend, teacher, mentor, neighbor, or colleague – anyone who has touched your life.
  2. Write a letter to that person, describing what they did, why are you are grateful, and how their actions affected your life.
  3. Ask to meet with them, without telling them why you want to meet, and read your letter to them in person.

In our everyday lives, we can also take time to reflect on who we are grateful for and what we are grateful for. But the biggest impact comes from sharing our thankfulness with others.

This is the kind of experience that Thanksgiving creates for us. It’s a time to both feel thankful and show our thankfulness. (And maybe it’s a little about food, pie, and football).

Happy Thanksgiving. Happy Thankfulness.

Who are you thankful for right now? How will you show your thankfulness and thanksgiving?


Practice thankfulness

November 25, 2014

Practice Thankfulness

“When you practice gratefulness, there is a sense of respect toward others.” – Dalai Lama

During the holidays our thoughts are often filled with turkey, pumpkin pie, and Black Friday sales. Let’s also fill our thoughts with thankfulness, gratitude, and appreciation.

During the holiday weekend and every day, here are some simple ways we can practice thankfulness:

* Give thanks. Say “thank you” to the people you meet – bank tellers, store clerks. Leave “thank you” sticky notes for people in lunch bags, lockers, or on desks. Write a “thank you” letter to someone you haven’t seen in a while, like a former teacher, a fire station, or your family doctor.

* Daily 5-minute thankfulness. Set aside 5 minutes every day to stop, breath deeply, and appreciate the good things in your life.

* List the ABCs of gratitude. has an interesting activity for the whole family: for each letter of the alphabet, take turns contributing something for which you are thankful – from apples and April showers to zebras and zucchini.

* Start a gratitude journal. Look for things in your life to be grateful for, and write them down in a journal or online diary. Oprah Winfrey writes down five things she is grateful for ever day, from simple pleasures like “eating cold melon on a bench in the sun” to big achievements. Greater Good suggests writing in your gratitude journal just once or twice a week to boost your happiness, and offers more tips for keeping a gratitude journal.

* Create a thankful book. Add drawings, photos, magazine pictures, doodles, receipts, and other memorabilia to a blank journal. Ask family and friends to create their own gratitude pages and hang them on the wall. For kids, the Scholastic website has a free “I Am Thankful” printable booklet that lets them add their own drawings and photos.

* Begin a gratitude jar. Any glass, plastic, or aluminum jar can become a gratitude jar. Fill the container with gratitude notes on slips of paper. The Somewhat Simple blog has a beautiful “Give Thanks” gratitude jar, with printable Thanksgiving writing prompts. You can even give a gratitude jar as a gift.

Thankful pumpkin patch

* Share your thankfulness. Last Thanksgiving, I created a colorful “Thankful Pumpkin Patch” poster. I gave everyone a pumpkin cut-out, asked them to write something they are thankful for, and taped it to our thankful patch. Another year, I painted a simple “Thankful Tree” poster and passed out autumn leaves for people to write the things they were thankful for.

What are your Thanksgiving traditions? What are you thankful for this year?

Holiday selling, giving, and thankfulness

December 3, 2013

I am trying to teach my 7-year old son that the holidays are about more than just buying and receiving gifts. I want him to appreciate what he has, not focus on what he doesn’t have. I want him to think about the gifts he really wants, not just the gifts he wants right now.

This year, we tried three new Thanksgiving traditions to get the holidays off to a better start:

* Selling with a smile. My son set up a table at the Keiki Swap Meet, hosted by the Children’s DiscoveryCenter. On a Saturday morning, my son sold his gently-used books, DVDs, puzzles, toys, and games. Not only did this reduce my son’s clutter and make room for holiday gifts, it taught him to evaluate the toys he really wants – and gave him some spending money for Christmas gifts. He greeted customers, suggested toys, added up sales, and made change. He also learned about treating customers well – whenever someone made a purchase, he offered them a free “prize” (a pencil, stickers, a tattoo). He didn’t try to hold on to toys that he no longer played with, and was happy to meet some of the kids who bought his toys.

Tip #1: Practice being friendly. My son to practiced saying “Hi” and “Welcome to my store” with eye contact and a smile. I reminded him to thank everyone who stopped by, even if they were just looking.

Tip #2: Collect “freebies.” Whenever my son gets free stickers, tattoos, pencils, and other trinkets, we put the things he doesn’t want into a small box. We had a nice assortment of “prizes” to give away.

* Giving to others. In the weeks before Thanksgiving, my son and I put together two shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child. My son chose two of his new, unopened toys for boys aged 5-9. To each box, we added toothbrushes, toothpaste, pencils, erasers, stickers, toy cars, a book, and other small toys. It gave us a nice feeling to prepare a Christmas gift for a child somewhere in the world, who might not get a Christmas present. When he pointed out that Santa gives every kid a present, I answered that sometimes Santa needs our help (he accepted that, but rejected the idea that Santa goes on vacation in Hawaii, because “he has too many toys to make”). During National Collection Week, we dropped off our shoeboxes, complete with gift wrap and labels, and learned that our gifts will be sent to Nepal.

Tip: Set gifts aside year-round. If my son receives too many birthday or holiday presents, I usually set aside some of them, and bring them out throughout the year. So we already had a stash of small toys and games that we could share, without having to spend extra money.

* Sharing our thankfulness. On Thanksgiving Day, in addition to a lovely dinner, we created a “Thankful Pumpkin Patch.” We gave everyone a pumpkin cut-out, asked them to write something they are thankful for, and added it to our thankful patch. We could just go around the dinner table and share our thanks, but I like the idea of writing things down; there’s less pressure to come up with something witty or eloquent, and it gives everyone a chance to read each other’s responses.

Tip: Thankfulness as art. Some ideas to turn your thanks into year-round art: write your thanks on a “Thankful Tree” (fall leaves), a “Thankful Patch” (pumpkins), a “Thankful Turkey” (feathers), or “Thankful Stones” (stones or pebbles).

How do you balance giving and receiving during the holidays? What do the holidays mean to you?

4 thankful opportunities

November 22, 2011

Thanksgiving can be so much more than a festive meal, spending time with the people we love, and being thankful for what we have. It can also be an opportunity to think about the kind of person we want to be and show our appreciation for others.

On Thanksgiving, let’s take some time to reflect on who you want to be, to share your thankful memories, to be thankful, and to do small acts of thankfulness.

* Reflect. Oprah Winfrey reminds us: “Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough.” Theodore Roosevelt inspires us: “Let us remember that, as much has been given us, much will be expected from us, and that true homage comes from the heart as well as from the lips, and shows itself in deeds.”

* Share. Create an “I am Thankful” book and add drawings or photos and pictures from magazines (the Scholastic website has a nice printable “I am Thankful” book). You can also family, friends, and classmates to each create an “I am Thankful” page on scrapbook paper and put it together in a book. Or take it a step further, and keep a “Gratitude Journal” all year long.

* Be. “The Pillsbury Doughboy has that endearing quality that when you poke him he doesn’t flare up but automatically responds with a friendly, perky, “Oh!” I want to be like him,” writes Dr. Ralph F. Wilson in “Overflowing with thankfulness.” “Not so plump, mind you, but that full of friendliness. When someone pokes me I want my first instinct to be thankfulness rather than anger. I want people to find thankfulness oozing out of me.”

* Do. Small notes of thanks or hand-made cards are a nice and inexpensive way to thank the people around you, from teachers and mail carriers to store cashiers and bank tellers. We can also show our appreciation to American service members, veterans, and their families through the “Holiday Mail for Heroes” program. You can mail holiday cards (please read the guidelines first) by December 9, 2011 to: Holiday Mail For Heroes, PO Box 5456, Capitol Heights, MD 20791-5456.

What are your favorite Thanksgiving memories? How do you show that you are thankful?

A thankful day

November 23, 2010

Thanksgiving is a day that celebrates the good things in our lives – our family, our friends, our health, our home. I think it’s especially important to be thankful during tough times.

Let’s take a few moments to think about Thanksgiving. It’s not about having the things we want – it’s appreciating the things we already have.

Here are three Thanksgiving traditions that you can share with your families. After all, it just takes one year to start making new Thanksgiving traditions.

* A surprise thank-you. Choose someone you know who works hard, but who doesn’t always get a lot of thanks. It could be your mail delivery person, a bus driver, or your favorite waiter or cashier, bank teller or librarian. On an ordinary day, surprise them with a drawing or card, cookies, or hand-picked flowers. Try not to spend more than $1; it’s about showing your appreciation, not the gift itself.

* Thankful tree. Draw a tree trunk on a large piece of cardboard (from an appliance box) or poster board; or use a real indoor tree. Cut out shapes of leaves, flowers, nuts, or fruits; use tags or even ribbons. Everyone should write down at least one thing they are thankful for, and hang it on the tree.

* Thankful bowl. Find a plain, simple bowl. Ask each person to write down what they are thankful for on a piece of paper; or choose a small token that has meaning for them (a button, a leaf, a flower, a picture). Pass the thankful bowl around the table, so that everyone can put something inside the bowl and share what they are thankful for. Then set the bowl in the middle of the table as you eat. (This idea was adapted from Chinaberry’s Thanksgiving Bowl)

What are you thankful for? How can we be thankful year-round?