Thanksgiving is the perfect time to reflect on what you have to be thankful for. If you’re having a hard time thinking of something to focus on, read this!
Every year, people in the United States celebrate the national holiday of Thanksgiving. This special time happens on the fourth Thursday of November (this year, Thanksgiving falls on November 28th). This holiday is celebrated in all of North America, although Canada celebrates it in October. Thanksgiving is a federal holiday, so most people have the day off from work (and those who don’t will often be paid time and a half – not a bad deal). Thanksgiving celebrations are always followed by Black Friday, which, as we all know, is the best time to get killer sales on all our favorite brands. But how did national Thanksgiving Day celebrations begin?
Thanksgiving has a rich history: it started in England, although historians don’t exactly know when. The tradition was brought to the United States by colonizers from England in the 1620s and 1630s. History says that the 1621 Plymouth feast, one of the original Thanksgiving celebrations, happened because the pilgrims chose to share their good harvest with the native Americans to thank them for the help they gave during months of scarcity.
The date and place of the first official Thanksgiving celebration on North American soil are highly debated, but what we do know are that author Sarah Josepha Hale wrote letters to politicians for around 40 years, campaigning to make it an official holiday. Despite her efforts, however, the official establishment of the holiday was heavily delayed by the Civil War. When George Washington was president of the United States, he declared that the first nationwide Thanksgiving celebration would take place on November 26, 1789. Later on, in 1939, President Franklin D. Roosevelt would change the Thanksgiving holiday to be celebrated on the next-to-last Thursday in November because he hoped this would boost sales during the Great Depression. Although this decision was initially met with protest and derision, the tradition stuck around – as you know, we still celebrate it on that date!
In this day and age, the days of Thanksgiving are celebrated by gathering with families and friends, eating copious amounts of delicious food and drinking our favorite beverages. It’s a very popular and well-known holiday in the United States, a time when everyone comes together to enjoy pumpkin pie, turkey, gravy, cranberry sauce, stuffing, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, sweet potatoes, and everything else.
But, most importantly, this season is the time to gather and remember the things we’re thankful for. Below, we’ve listed some of the things we’re thankful for, as well as how to best express your thanks. We encourage you to act on these opportunities for gratitude!
1. Friends and family
True friendship is hard to find, so take a moment to give a shoutout to your besties. Send a text message, make a nostalgic Facebook post, or post a #tbt on Instagram (one of the perks of Thanksgiving falling on a Thursday!) – either way, make sure the people in your life know that you appreciate them.
If you’re close with your family, be sure to show some love and gratitude to them as well. This is the perfect time to let them know you appreciate their love, support, and company. If you’re on good terms with your parents, be sure to thank them for giving you the foundation to become the person you are today!
If you don’t get along with your family so well, this is an optimal time to show your chosen family some love. No matter who you consider family, be sure to reach out and let them know how grateful you are to have them in your life!
Don’t forget – pets are part of the family, too. If you have pets, let them join the Thanksgiving feast by giving them some extra treats and affection.
2. Career and income
If you’re currently employed, if you’re making enough money to live a decent life…take a moment to express your gratitude for the money you have in the bank. If you’re living on more than $1 a day, you’re doing better than a lot of the world’s population. So how do you show your gratitude? If you have enough to do so, consider making a donation to your favorite charity. Sharing your wealth with others is a great way to appreciate what you have.
3. A roof over your head
Whether you live in a house, an apartment, a trailer, a basement, or any other dwelling – as long as you have a roof over your head, you’re doing better than most people. If you have a bed to sleep in, you’re also doing really well, statistically! And if your dwelling is well-maintained, has indoor plumbing, and clean running water, that’s amazing! If you have WiFi or a phone with mobile data, if you have a working microwave and stove, if you have working electric lights (and can afford to pay your power bill), that’s awesome. These are all things to be immensely grateful for!
4. The beauty of nature
We should also find a way to be grateful for the natural beauty that surrounds us. Fall is a great time to do that – the leaves on the trees are changing colors, increased rainfall leads to amazing waterfalls, and the Sun, Moon, and stars are wonders in and of themselves. Every day, we’re surrounded by natural beauty – this is a gift that we very often forget to truly appreciate.
To truly appreciate the beauty of nature, take a walk (or even a hike) outside. Visit a nature preserve, a mountain, a beach, a river, or a forest. Do some exploring, but also take some time to relax and observe your surroundings. Appreciate the plants and animals around you. If you see flora or fauna you don’t recognize, try looking them up or taking a photo and sharing it with your friends. It’s been proven that spending time in nature has health benefits, both physical and mental. Go back to your roots and ground yourself!
5. Education and knowledge
If you can read this, you have something to be grateful for. The ability to read, write, and think critically is something many of us take for granted every day, but not everyone receives adequate education. Due to poverty, discrimination, and other factors, many people all over the world never receive a primary or secondary education. Girls, in particular, are statistically unlikely to receive a quality education in many parts of the world due to a number of factors.
How can you appreciate your education? Use your brain! Read a book (or just this blog post – that counts!), write a letter (maybe a thank-you letter to your favorite teacher?), or engage in political or philosophical discussions with your friends. Set aside some time to exercise your knowledge and talents – your brain will appreciate it.
If you have memories you can look back on fondly, you’re lucky! Take a moment to reflect back on the best times in your life. The ability to remember what happened, who was there, and how you felt is a blessing in and of itself. You’ve lived so long and had so many experiences – that’s amazing!
To kickstart your gratitude for the memories in your life, try looking at old photographs. You’re sure to be flooded with warm, fuzzy nostalgia in no time. Maybe reach out to someone you haven’t talked to in years and ask them how they’re doing! (Only do this if you’re on good terms, though.)
7. Modern technology
Chances are, you’re reading this on a phone, a laptop, a desktop, a tablet, or some other device that uses electricity. Electricity has made our lives easier in a multitude of ways – we can access information with the touch of a screen, contact anyone at any time, cook meals in minutes, and we can see because of lighting. Not only that, electricity keeps us comfortable by providing cool or warm air.
We haven’t always had the luxury of electric appliances and devices. Electricity is something we take for granted every day because it’s become so mainstream in our society. But there are many places in the world where electricity is scarce, or even nonexistent! So if you’re reading this on a screen, consider yourself fortunate.
8. Entertainment and free time
Do you like to watch Netflix, or do you prefer YouTube or TV? Are you into podcasts, radio, maybe video games? Do you like to go to concerts, watch movies, or see other kinds of live shows? Maybe you like to go to bars, clubs, or restaurants? No matter what you like to do, entertainment helps us wind down from a long day. Most of our favorite ways to relax are available at our fingertips. Others are easily accessible by purchasing tickets, driving somewhere, or simply going for a walk down the street. Isn’t that cool?
Take a moment to consider all of the amazing entertainment we have available. Nowadays, people in the US are busier and working harder than ever, but we also have easier access to these recreational activities. Make time to get out (or stay in) and do something you genuinely enjoy! If possible, write a message or a letter to one of your favorite entertainers to appreciate them for the joy they’ve brought to your life.
9. The five senses
If you’re able to smell, taste, touch, hear, and see, you’re doing pretty well! Our senses help us get around, navigate safely, and get the most enjoyment possible out of life. If you’ve had the opportunity to taste good food, smell your favorite flower, hear a beautiful song, see the beauty around you, and touch satisfying textures, you definitely have something to be grateful for. Thanksgiving uses all of our senses: we smell food cooking, taste the food when it’s ready, talk to our friends and relatives, give each other hugs, and see our loved ones.
This year, try to really take it all in. Inhale deeply, relish the flavors and scents, and really concentrate on conversations you’re part of – that way, you’ll be able to thoroughly enjoy the whole experience.
Love comes in many forms: romantic love, family love, friendly love, love for humanity, and self-love, to name a few. No matter who you’re loved by, and no matter who you give your love to, if you have love in your life, that’s amazing!
Show gratitude for the love in your life by perpetuating and spreading it. Tell someone you love them today! If it’s appropriate and possible, give them a hug and/or a kiss, too. If you’re romantically involved with someone, be sure to show them love in a way that reflects their love language. A little affection goes a long way, and just about everyone appreciates being reminded that they are loved. Besides, as the saying goes: the more love you put out, the more will return to you.
But be sure to practice self-love, as well! Do something nice for yourself. After all, this is the season when “treat yourself” really takes on a new meaning. Don’t wait for someone else – now is the perfect time to do something really special for yourself. Shop Black Friday sales for products you’ve been wanting, take a nice bubble bath, buy yourself flowers, take yourself out on a date, or treat yourself to some extra rest. It’s up to you!
What are you thankful for? Leave us a comment!