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5 Ways to Live Graciously This Thanksgiving

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how_to_live_graciously"Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it."
—William Arthur Ward

This year has certainly been challenging for families throughout our community. As the holidays ramp up, you may notice your plans look a little different. And with Thanksgiving around the corner, there’s no better time to practice appreciation and thankfulness than the present.

So, whether you’re hosting a responsible gathering at home or considering a virtual celebration this year, one thing is for certain—it’s more important than ever to express your gratitude for your loved ones.

So as the hustle and bustle of the holiday season kicks in, we encourage you to slow down and express gratitude for the gifts in your life. Below, we outline creative ways to do just that.

1. Have a conversation with the people you love.

Do you ever find yourself wishing you had more time to share with a loved one? The simplest way to express gratitude more fully in your life is to verbalize your appreciation for others.

As you sit down at the table or login to video to enjoy Thanksgiving dinner with close family members and friends, have each person go around and say something for which they’re grateful. If you’re feeling particularly grateful for another person in your life, tell them. This can open the door to meaningful and memorable conversation, and make sure nothing goes left unsaid.

Before diving in, make sure there are no distractions. Turn off the football game and put away your phone if possible. This is a simple way to show admiration for the people you love.

>>>Related Resource: Read 4 Thanksgiving Conversation Starters for Around the Table.

2. Write letters to close friends and family members.

Sometimes we forget to thank the people who make our lives better just by being in it. A creative way to express gratitude this Thanksgiving is to write out your appreciation. Share a specific example of something they did for you and how it made a difference in your life.

To start, make a list of people you’d like to thank. This may include:

  • Family members.
  • Friends.
  • Neighbors.
  • Caregivers.
  • Coaches.
  • Coworkers.
  • Mentors.
  • Patients.
  • Volunteers.

A handwritten letter is an easy way to make others aware of your gratitude. Plus, it can brighten someone’s day while social distancing.

3. Donate unused goods to a local shelter.

A creative way to express gratitude for what you have is to share with others.

Do you have old clothes or other belongings taking up space around the house? If the answer is yes, consider donating these items to a local homeless shelter or donation center. Before donating, be sure to ask the shelter what they need.

In Northeast Ohio, the temperatures drop as the holiday season approaches. Donating hats, gloves, scarves and coats could make a difference in someone’s life.

4. Volunteer in your community.

This Thanksgiving, demonstrate gratitude by volunteering your time to a meaningful cause.

Food pantries are always in need of support around the holidays. This year, consider inviting your friends and family to:

  • Collect non-perishables to give.
  • Fuel mobile pantries with monetary donations.
  • Purchase cleaning supplies or safety equipment.

Or, contact a local nursing home or hospital. This holiday season, volunteers may serve a little differently, but they’re no less important. Consider signing up to be a pen pal for residents in nursing homes who are unable to visit loved ones this year.

No matter how you choose to volunteer, take time to reflect on your experience. After all, there’s always something to be grateful for in life.

5. Take time to reflect personally.

It’s important to take time to personally reflect on the things you’re grateful for most. Maybe you’re thankful for a roof over your head or food on your table. Perhaps, you’ve begun to appreciate the smaller things in life, like a beautifully colored sunrise or sunset.

Whatever it is, take time this holiday season to write down what you’re most grateful for. Keep the list in a place where you’ll see it throughout the day to be reminded of the many blessings in your life.

Uncover Conversation Topics for the Holidays

Thanksgiving is almost here! What better time to get to know your loved ones better? Forget the small talk, and download Busch’s Essential Guide to Meaningful Conversation to tackle some of life’s most important questions together.

Packed with 25+ conversation-starting questions and tips, this is sure to be a fun exercise for the whole family during the holiday season.

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Editor's Note: This post was originally published in 2018, and was updated to be more comprehensive. 

Cathy Nichols
Cathy Nichols
Considers it an honor as a Certified Celebrant to listen to life stories, and then design and conduct meaningful tributes. Cathy also trains celebrants nationally, equipping them to share those legacies in ways that comfort and enlighten. Honorably serving Busch families since 2004.

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