But what if we want a more meaningful season of gratitude this time around?
Is there some way to extract more than turkey feasts, Pinterest-perfect centerpieces, or the pilgrim story, Black Friday or before gift-giving and receiving overwhelms our period of thankfulness and reflection?
But of course! This time provides the perfect opportunity for breathing in crisp, cool air and focusing on what matters, and why it matters, creatively.
Consider these less conventional displays of gratitude:
- Actual “face time.”
Quality time is the best indicator of your appreciation for a loved one’s presence in you life.
Offer a loved one some unmitigated “face time.” The real kind. No computer, no cell phone, no tablet. No posting, no selfies, no checking in. In fact, be so intent about making a beautiful, connected, engaged time together that the whole experience needn’t be posted to social media at all.(*gasp!) The shared memory is enough.
- Immediate gratification.
Immediately and selflessly responding to a loved one’s wish, desire, or need says, “I am happy you’re here and I want you to be happy.”
Listen intently to the people around you. Did your mom mention that she admired your hair? Right there in front of her, get on the phone and set up an appointment for her, on your dime. Then pick her up and drive her when it’s time. Did your brother-in-law gush over your sweet potato pie? Show your gratitude for his appreciation by delivering one to eat, and one to freeze, later in the week. And the nephew in college? You know without asking he’d appreciate shopping in your pantry, before heading back to school.
It feels good to show your appreciation immediately and selflessly. You’ll be gratified by the delight and surprise others get from your prompt attention. After all, after childhood, it rarely happens for many of us anymore.
- Letters of “nemesis appreciation.”
Some people are challenging. That’s something to be thankful for.
Okay, maybe you don’t have a nemesis, or an arch rival, or even an enemy. But you do have someone in your life who irks you, at least a little bit. Someone you see at work or at school. Someone on the treadmill next to yours at the gym every morning. Someone at that Thanksgiving table with you. (*ahem)
Write them a note, thanking them for the way their views or ideas challenge you. Detail (graciously) how much you appreciate their presence, and how it has helped you look internally and either like yourself more, or feel convicted to make some changes.
Your gratitude may come as a surprise to them, and could be a turning point in your relationship, or rejected outright. Doesn’t much matter. Gratitude is a good thing, regardless. You’re better for it.
Appreciate your mind and body for seeing you through the year’s ups and downs.
This time of year, show gratitude to the physical “host of your soul,” by reclaiming peace and goodwill on a daily basis:
- Eat and drink well. Enjoy the holiday fare, just do it sparingly.
- Exercise. Walk off stress around your neighborhood, or find your center in yoga class.
- Steal some quiet time. Strolling a museum, meditating in a place of worship, or stargazing at the Oakland Chabot Space & Science Center may be nice ways to relax.
- Journal. Writing provides perspective, when holiday plans inevitably going awry.
Showing gratitude helps make the season more enjoyable for those around you. They will be grateful for a less stressed, more present you.