Coming together to express thanks for life’s bountiful gifts goes back centuries. Long before the pilgrims ever laid eyes on Plymouth Harbor the ancient Egyptians were celebrating the harvest. Like the pilgrims themselves, the family gatherings, turkey, football and all the Thanksgiving traditions we take for granted, nearly didn’t make it.
Fortunately for us it did but it took more than 300 years from that first Thanksgiving until it was officially declared a national holiday in 1941. While lifestyles have changed, livelihoods no longer rely on fishing and raising corn and traditions have become more modern since the time of the pilgrims, the central idea of Thanksgiving is something that many still hold dear. Amongst all the noise of holiday shopping and televised sports we still gather our family and friends together to give thanks.
Modern life is more bountiful than ever and if holding on to the true spirit of Thanksgiving is important to you, here are 21 simple ways to give thanks this Thanksgiving.
- Send a Note - Buy a box of the most beautiful note card stationary you can find, add a handwritten personal note of thanks to each one and mail them.
Give a Compliment - Make people feel valued by giving a compliment to every person you come in contact with this week. With the smiles you get, you’ll probably want to keep it up all month long.
Say Grace - You don’t have to be a religious person to be thankful for your food. It only takes a moment to reflect on how lucky we really are so keep it as short and sweet as you want, then dive in.
- Donate Your Stuff - There are plenty of possibilities here. Donate your old clothes, furniture or that jar of spare change. Holding on to things you don’t need doesn’t make your life any richer so move it out. Bonus points for writing a big check and making the donation in someone else’s name.
- Volunteer - To take it up a notch why not donate the most valuable of your possessions, your time. Volunteering often hits close to home and pays dividends in better communities, stronger schools and better local services.
- Be Positive on Social Media - Remember that friendly clerk at the dry cleaners or those extra wide parking spaces at the new warehouse. Take some time and leave a comment or write a review on their website or social media. The local businesses that you love will appreciate the feedback and it helps them grow their business.
- Accept Gifts Graciously - Don’t be embarrassed, don’t make up excuses or try to refuse because you have some social hang-up about being recognized. Accept gifts with class, style and a heartfelt thank you.
Create a Thankful Ritual - Rituals are small but powerful habits that help you stay in a thankful frame of mind. Maybe it’s a thankful quote on your refrigerator or a special photo when you start up your computer that reminds you what’s more important than work.
- Pay it Forward - Think of an unexpected kindness you received and think of a way to pay it forward. Did your neighbor roll your recycling bin back up the driveway? Spend a week keeping track of how many cars you can let merge in front of you. Bonus points for a city bus.
Respond with Love - Did a co-worker dump their urgent project on you Friday afternoon? Does the floor of your kid’s room look like a biohazard site? No matter how frustrating, annoying or wrong someone’s actions are today, you will respond with love. Go above and beyond. Instead of spending all that energy fuming and grinding your teeth, clean up the room and bake cookies. Finish the report, make copies and get some professional looking covers as well.
Talk to the Boss - Go to the school principle, the restaurant manager or your own boss and single someone out for special praise. Talk about the outstanding service or how important that person is to your project team or how that coach or teacher helps your child.
- Go Global - Learn how to say thank you in other languages. Danke, merci and mahalo stand out and make giving thanks fun.
Go Team - Acknowledge your partners contribution to your life together. Let them know you realize how much they do and express how much you appreciate it.
- Split It - Order a little more food than you normally would at a restaurant, eat exactly half and give your box of leftovers to a homeless person. You stick to your diet and someone in need gets a square meal.
- Take a Walk - Go for a walk in the park and appreciate the little things like kids and squirrels, sunshine and fall colors. Like the song says, “everything is beautiful in its own way”. Bonus points if you pick up a little trash and throw it in the bin. Now everything is just a little more beautiful.
- Vacation Replay - Spend a little time flipping through the photos and reminiscing about that wonderful summer vacation. Now go online and leave a positive review for the hotel you stayed at, the restaurant you ate at and the tour you took.
- Decorate the Table - Get that stack of magazines and unread junk mail off of there and create a centerpiece to celebrate the season. Bring out a nice tablecloth, set out some candles, a bowl of miniature pumpkins or make your own cornucopia and get in the entertaining mood.
- Remember the Bad Times - Don’t dwell on them but remember a time when you were struggling to keep it together and how much better things are now. It’s really true that time is the greatest healer. Be thankful for that.
- Smart Investment - Make a micro loan to a student or small business in a developing country. Groups like Kiva.org facilitate microloans of as little as $25 toward supporting small businesses and students in developing countries and conflict zones around the world. You see your invested project succeed, pay back their loan and you have a chance to make future loans.
- Pet Your Dog - Spend 10 minutes petting your dog. If you don’t have a dog, go to the SPCA and get one. Man’s best friends earn our eternal thanks every day of their lives.
- Work Out - Along with being thankful, exercise provides loads of physical and psychological benefits. Combining a mindset of being thankful with regular physical exercise gives you a powerful one-two punch that can benefit everything from your school grades to your relationships and your sleep to your immune system. Oh, and be thankful you STILL CAN work out. No whining.
Have a simple way to give thanks? Share it with us here at Zeitgeit Gifts and make the world a little happier place. We’ll thank you :)