The swirl of Thanksgiving

Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

It’s the day before Thanksgiving, and as usual, I have a mixture of thoughts and emotions. I’m excited to be hosting a four-family, international Thanksgiving feast, relieved that I am responsible for only two things on the menu, and thrilled at the thought of not setting my alarm for the next 4 days.

I’m also a little stressed that I don’t have all the ingredients I need yet, concerned that all of our students travel safely over this break and sad to miss loved ones who will not be at our dinner table tomorrow.

Beneath the swirl of emotions, here’s the truth: thanksgiving is the best response — and I don’t mean the turkey dinner.

Giving thanks really is the most powerful, portable and practical virtue around. It’s so simple that I often fail to grasp it. Practicing gratitude makes us feel good, but science also shows that people who practice gratitude get better at coping with stress, seek more social support, respond to negative events more positively and become more patient.

I’ve worked for years to journal daily gratitudes, but I recently became aware that the benefits of gratitude become greater — personally and for the world — if we go the next step and express our gratitude to other people. For example, if I don’t simply write in my journal, “I am grateful for my mother,” but take the step of telling her that personally and in some detail. Pretty obvious, I know, but it doesn’t happen without intention.

If you want a little inspiration, watch this and pay attention to how you feel:

In the midst of all of the swirl of this Thanksgiving holiday, I commit to expressing gratitude. What if each of us would commit to writing a few unexpected thank you notes this weekend?

Maybe I’ll serve blank thank you cards with the pie.

Rebecca Stoltzfus