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Embracing Gratitude in the Season of Gathering

Fellow millennials, what comes to your mind when you think of Thanksgiving Day? Are you plotting your Thanksgiving feast or a turkey trot 5k that will either help you eat more or reduce the impact of what you are eating? If I’m being honest, my planner side of my brain starts to take over by trying to prepare the logistical maps over the weeks ahead to see my family, my husband’s family, and the occasional Friendsgiving leading up to the big day on top of the normal daily operations. Sometimes, it’s too easy to get caught up in the “how” things will work that we forget the “why” behind the season.

If you think about it, Thanksgiving is the only day of the year officially designated for gratitude. Thanksgiving is a truly beautiful concept of gathering with loved ones and sharing a meal together, especially as we see tensions rising in the world around us.

In case you need some reminding like I do, I want to give some prompts for us to be mindful in this season.

Define three things you are grateful for each day in the week leading up to Thanksgiving.

You may have heard of a gratitude journal. Some keep it in a physical journal. Some people save it as a note on their phone. Take a moment to document three things you are grateful for every day leading up to Thanksgiving. If you did three things a day, that would result in 21 things you are grateful for by Thanksgiving day. Many studies have shown health benefits to starting this practice, such as reduced feelings of anxiety and stress. How many of us could use a dose of that before a big holiday? I’ll take two please!

Look around the table.

Whether you are the one hosting or being hosted, I hope you take a few seconds to look around the table in this season of gathering. While it may be hard to ignore a mountain of mashed potatoes or the glistening turkey, notice who is around the table. Those gathering with you have walked through another year together. You’ve experienced love, loss, growth, or something else that is worth acknowledging.

Celebrate your wins and grieve your losses.

So many families experience the loss of family members every year. There’s no more beautiful tribute than sharing a special memory around the table or a moment of gratitude for what they meant to you. Consider asking if anyone at the table has a win they’d like to share from this year. You may celebrate a graduation, a wedding or an opening of a business. It could be a multitude of things that may get missed or buried in day-to-day life.

As November quickly turns into December, it reminds me of this song that I heard a couple Christmases ago, “A Hard Year’s Christmas” by Johnnyswimm. There’s a really special chorus throughout the song that says, “Give into wonder, give into rest, we only have so many Christmases left.” We only get so many Christmases, birthdays, and Thanksgiving, among other holidays together. I don’t want to forget to treasure the truly beautiful moments that have come and gone with 2023. Let’s be present as we enter another beautiful season of gathering.

November 2023

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