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Giving Thanks

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Last year we posted the piece below about giving thanks (“Sweeten Your Dinner with a Cup of Gratitude”). After a year of our book being on the shelves and making it into so many of your homes, we want to express our own gratitude for you, our loyal fans and followers. It’s nice to know we’re able to make a difference in your daily routines and so appreciative of all of your kind words and support. Wishing you all a very happy and joyous holiday with your friends and family.

 

Sweeten Your Dinner with a Cup of Gratitude

After reading the 10 newest recipes for how to roast the perfect turkey (are they ever really new?), after writing then losing the mile long grocery list, and after all the shopping and prepping, stuffing, and table setting is done…take a breath. Light the candles. Invite everyone to sit down around the table and just for a moment let’s talk about what Thanksgiving is really about. 

Thanksgiving is about putting aside all problems large and small, and focusing on the good, the great and the precious in our lives. It takes a conscious effort, the counting of blessings, and remembering the highs of this year, to bring focus to all the joy and gifts our lives already hold.  The reward for this awareness is a powerful state of happiness because it returns us to the place where we notice what’s right in our lives instead of what’s wrong.

“Some complain that roses have thorns—others rejoice that thorns have roses!” –Unknown

Tonight, take a moment to look around your table and you might see that everything you can be most grateful for in life is right there, right now. From every family member and friend, to the dinner itself and all that is taking place around a table that is as beautiful and nourishing as the food being served. 

We all need practice expressing thanks for our family, our friends, our health, our ability to walk, breath, laugh or cry. Our kids are watching and listening; this is how they learn. At a recent dinner I asked our group what were some things we take for granted and my friend’s fourteen-year-old daughter said, “weekends.” Yes, that’s it! Recognizing the day-to-day gifts. A regular appointment with gratitude is one of life’s most simple and nutritious treasures.

Finding ways to express gratitude is such an important part of family dinner that we included a whole chapter on it in “The Family Dinner: Great Ways to Connect with Your Kids, One Meal at a Time”. When looking for wisdom, it’s always advisable to seek out wise people. One of my favorites is Reverend Ed Bacon, the Rector of All Saints Church in Pasadena, CA. Gratitude is one of his favorite subjects too and he didn’t hesitate a second when asked if gratitude can and should be taught.  “If you don’t learn gratitude as a child, you can grow up to be an ingrate and that is one of the worst possible human conditions. The essence of life is a gift. What do you do when you receive a gift? It is a diminishment of the human soul not to know that life is a gift.” 

Once the Thanksgiving dishes are washed and put away, how do we maintain gratitude for this gift of life everyday, not just at holiday time? We can take a moment of every meal for thanks-giving. You don’t have to believe in God to say grace or to be gracefully appreciative at the table. You just have to believe in the importance of recognizing all the blessings, small or large, that come to your life everyday. 

For some people, the challenge of gratitude is not the feeling of it but the expressing it. Unexpressed gratitude is like a hug never given. So here are a few ways to get the thank you’s flowing:

Tonight, try asking everyone to mention 3 things they are grateful for, and you may be surprised how simple yet profound some of the answers will be. 

After talking about the days highs and lows, make it a point to look for what might be hidden behind the lows, finding silver linings there as well.

Ask each family member to talk about a time that was exceptional or challenging and why they are now grateful for it. 

Look at everything on your dinner table and see how many people can be thanked for making it happen, starting with the farmer who planted the seed that became the tree which bore the apple… that became the pie. For more ideas, check out The Family Dinner book!

Let these ideas get you started and make this Thanksgiving the most gratitude-filled one ever! Start by expressing gratitude for the dinner, for those who provided it and those who prepared it. Let’s look each other in the eye and say I am grateful for you, and life and apple pie and let’s continue saying thank you tomorrow and the next day again because there are few better ingredients to happiness than a regular cup of gratitude.

“I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought; and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.” –Gilbert Keith Chesterton 

 

 

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