Gratitude (n): the quality or feeling of being grateful or thankful

I’d like to think I start off each day pausing to express gratitude for all the good in my life; the reality is more often than not I jump full swing into my schedule and don’t stop until something goes wrong.

Perhaps that’s why I appreciate Thanksgiving so much – it’s a day where we all get to gather and reflect with friends and family.

And while the holidays may bring their own level of stress, we can each choose to be grateful for at least one thing or one person in our lives today.

But what does that look like in tangible form? I’m glad you asked…

Much like any other day, Thanksgiving can quickly come and go amidst feasting and football games without stopping to soak in the moment. So today I’m here to help you with some practical tips to express gratitude, no matter where or how you are celebrating:

Practical Tips to Express Gratitude

* Write It Down

Write down at least one thing you’re thankful for on a piece of paper, then keep that paper in your pocket or close to you during the day. The physical act of writing things down has been proven to cement the concept in our heads and hearts. Keeping that paper on you gives you something to tangibly touch throughout the day should you need a reminder in case things get tough, whether it’s because someone took the last piece of pie or you’re experiencing grief over the loss of a loved one. It’s like hanging onto the inside of a fortune cookie, but more personalized and legitimate for your life.

* Watch Something Together

Each year, regardless of whether I’m cooking or not, we turn on the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade to kick off our Thanksgiving morning. The tradition not only reminds us of our own family’s memories, but it helps root us in the knowledge that our story is just one amongst many. The balloons offer us the opportunity to share some of our own childhood favorites with our kids while welcoming new characters in the mix. And of course, it wouldn’t be Thanksgiving without me trying to kick along with the Rockettes on TV!


* Write a Note

This time of year brings together friends and relatives who may not have seen each other for quite some time. While it’s great to spend the day together, it’s even more special to have a memento to remember it with. Before guests arrive, take the time to write an individual note thanking each person for coming and add a sentence stating something you are specifically grateful for about them. This is an excellent activity to have your children participate in, especially young ones who may choose to color a picture and write one word that describes the loved one in their minds.

* Go Around the Table

Before eating, we like to go around the dinner table and give each person time to share something they’re thankful for from the previous year. Not only does this exercise bring us closer together as a group, it never fails to enlighten me. We are so prone to rushing through life that we often forget to take the time to truly get to know those closest to us; this insight into each person’s soul always helps me better understand their hearts, which in turn helps me to be a more thoughtful relative and friend.

* Open Your Door

Instead of shutting your family in this Thanksgiving, consider reaching out. This might look like inviting someone you just met to sit down at your table with you or going out to serve those in need at some point during the day. I’ve found that I’m never more thankful than when I’m confronted with all that I truly have, both tangibly and intangibly. We can never accurately gain this perspective when we stay cooped up within the four walls of our home.

These are just a few simple ways to express gratitude this Thanksgiving. As you can see, none of them take much time or money, if any at all.

The true key in expressing gratitude is not how you do it, but that you actually do it. I’m grateful for each of you reading this because it tells me you’re interested in making a difference in the lives of those around you.

My hope today is that you don’t just feel gratitude, but that you find a way to express gratitude, regardless of whether or not it’s through one of the tips above or not. Happy Thanksgiving!