‘Tis the season to be thankful. Not sure where to begin? Here are 20 things to appreciate this year.
It’s an obvious place to start for most of us in any “I’m thankful for” exercise. Whether they’re coming to us or we’re going to them, family (and subsequent family bonding) is often the theme of Thanksgiving celebrations. If you’re close to your family, be thankful for their support and legacy of love. If family life is more complicated than it is “Leave it to Beaver,” find ways to show your appreciation for the people who raised you the best they could. Good or bad, your family life helped inform what you value most in relationships.
Maybe your family isn’t lovey-dovey at this time of year. Maybe your dating life is looking rather sad. Cherish the friends who cheer you on — and who commiserate with you — all year round, whether you’re single, dating, or on good terms with your mom or not.
Be thankful for those around you who brighten your day: the barista, the paperboy, the neighbor who cuts your grass when you’re away. You’re surrounded by people who care about you, whether they go to your church, stretch with you at yoga class, or cut your hair. Online communities can be just as valuable. You are not alone.
Be thankful for change. Sure, temperatures are dropping — maybe even uncomfortably so — but the transition of fall is beautiful. The circle of life in the great outdoors is a great parallel to the seasons in our lives. The chill of winter won’t last forever.
Be thankful for the falling leaves, the long family walks around the block, and the opportunity to bundle up in chic scarves and wooly mittens.
If you have food on your table, be thankful for it. Not everyone is as fortunate as you are. If you don’t have food on your table, be thankful that there are people and organizations eager to help you remedy that. Even in hard times, not everyone is as fortunate as you are.
Like George Bailey, you’re probably “the richest man [or woman] in town” without knowing it. Take a moment to acknowledge the riches in your life, whether it’s your ability to pay bills on time, having nieces and nephews who think you’re the greatest, or the opportunity to take time off work to eat turkey with loved ones.
Getting older is significantly superior to the alternative. Look back at the follies of your youth and be thankful that with every year, you have more wisdom to access, more experience to draw from, and more reason to be comfortable in your own skin. And then stop looking back — and look forward.
Singletons, steer clear of the pity party this holiday season. Instead, be thankful for the magic of the perfect first date: there’s always the possibility of one around the corner. (Those in relationships can reflect on those exciting days early on. Remind yourself of the things that first attracted you to your partner.) If Aunt Dot wants to set you up with her friend’s son, it might not hurt to be receptive to her matchmaking advice.
If you’ve ever forgiven or been forgiven, you know there’s nothing more encouraging, freeing and beautiful than second chances. It’s never too late to reconcile, reroute or redeem.
If you’ve ever seen true love follow a horrific breakup, you know exactly second chances can never be overrated.
What makes you feel alive? Be thankful for the muses and the daydreams. The things that bring you to a state of childlike wonder are worth revisiting. In your thankfulness, recommit to pursuing the things that excite you.
Be thankful for the hard times, the mistakes, and the pain. They’ve made you stronger, smarter, and can reassure you that you’ll survive the next hurdle, too.
Are you reading this list? Then you’re among the fortunate. Don’t take things like literacy for granted. For many on this planet, literacy is a privilege, not a right. The written word can inspire, challenge and provoke. Be thankful for a good book and take some time to curl up with your favorite words as you wake up from that turkey coma.
Freedom and Opportunity
You probably won’t be arrested if you pray out loud over your Thanksgiving dinner. You might even get paid to miss work that weekend. Be thankful to live in a country packed with the freedoms and opportunities so many dream of.
Do you have a job? Be thankful. It’s hard to find and keep one these days. Are you self-employed? Be thankful for the freedom and flexibility that may offer you. Looking for work? Be thankful for the skills and experience you bring to the table.
Be thankful that you can hop in a car — or buy a bus ticket — and arrive at an out-of-town celebration with relatively little hassle. We have incredible access to transportation. If you need to get there, you can.
If you like football, be thankful that the nation celebrates with you this coming weekend. If you have little-to-no interest in the sport, be thankful that you can still gorge on chips and dip while not watching the game. (Or just be thankful that while the TV distracts some of your family you can sneak that second helping of pie.)
Instead of hating on a slow connection, remember that technology is awesome. For many, emails organize Thanksgiving dinner, Skype keeps long-distance families connected, and Facebook will share the memories you make this year.
Whatever your degree of health, find something to be thankful for. If you’re in good shape, don’t take it for granted. If you’re ailing, be thankful for modern medicine, doctors and the Thanksgiving reprieve from the day-to-day monotony of living with disease. Be thankful for this beautiful thing called life, whatever its quality.
Touch is a powerful gift, and doesn’t need to be sexual to be wonderful. Hug like crazy this Thanksgiving. Hold your grandmother’s hand. Connect with people physically.
Breakups. Even the most amicable of parting ways can sting. When mourning the end of a relationship, be sure to avoid the following “don’ts” of breakup etiquette.