Thanksgiving Day is typically reserved for giving thanks for family, friends and the previous year. While the coronavirus pandemic has made it more difficult to find much to be thankful for from the last few months, moments to express gratitude can still be found.
And because November is National Gratitude Month, the thanks don’t have to start and stop on Nov. 26. Here are a few ways you and your family can show gratitude all month long.
Daily gratitude practice
This is an easy activity to do during breakfast or dinner. Going around the table, each family member shares one (or more) thing they’re grateful for. Sharing what you’re grateful for, no matter how small, can help the whole family approach or end the day with a more thankful mindset. You also can write out a family list, with everyone contributing.
For something more visual, you could make a gratitude tree by creating a tree out of construction paper or other craft supplies and writing things you’re grateful for on leaves, which you then tape to the tree. Or consider writing down what you’re thankful for on slips of paper you collect in a jar. Once a week, or maybe during Thanksgiving dinner, family members can take turns sharing the notes in their jar.
It might not be easy to volunteer this year because of the pandemic, but there are still ways to give back to the community. If you can find a volunteer opportunity that allows for social distancing, perhaps at a food bank or animal shelter, round up the family, don your masks and head on out.
Make it a weekly thing if your schedule allows. If volunteering in person isn’t possible for your family, consider gathering up canned goods, warm weather clothing and supplies or pet supplies and donating them to a local food bank, warming shelter or animal shelter.
Thank -you notes
Etiquette coaches will tell you thank -you notes never go out of style, but the act of sending them really amps up around the holidays. Take some time, either individually or as a family, to write thank you notes to people who have really helped you out this year.
Maybe family members pitched in with child care. Or perhaps your children write thank -you notes to their teachers for doing their best to keep school in session. Notes to first responders also are a great idea.
Read books about gratitude
If gratitude is a new concept for your younger children, reading a book about the topic might help explain what gratitude is and how to express it. A quick search brings up dozens of books on gratitude for all ages and reading abilities.
Check Auntie’s Bookstore, Wishing Tree Books, the Well-Read Moose and other local bookstores for some of the following titles: “Thanks a Million” by Nikki Grimes; “The Thank You Book” by Mo Willems; “Bear Says Thanks” by Karma Wilson and Jane Chapman; “Giving Thanks: A Native American Good Morning Message” by Chief Jake Swamp; “Gracias/Thank You” by Pat Mora; “Llama Llama Gives Thanks” by Anna Dewdney; and “Those Shoes” by Maribeth Boelts.
Do a good deed
Good deeds don’t have to be elaborate or flashy, just a little something to show someone you care. Thanking the employees at the grocery store, for example, or paying for the coffee of the person in line behind you.
Perhaps you help a neighbor rake leaves or shovel snow or, to tie in with an earlier suggestion, you could coordinate a food drive in your neighborhood for a donation to a local food bank. Even calling a loved one you haven’t talked to in a while counts as a good deed. Again, it doesn’t have to be grandiose, just something from the heart.
Yes, it’s getting colder in the Inland Northwest, but bundling up and getting outside is a great way to show gratitude for the world around you. Go for a walk in your neighborhood (don’t forget your mask), and take time to appreciate the colors of the leaves, the crunch those leaves make when stepped on, the feeling of cool air on your face.
You might discover something you’ve never noticed before. If you’d like, go one step further by bringing a bag with you and picking up trash as you walk.
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