On this Thanksgiving weekend, I remember the family gatherings from when I was growing up. We often met with aunts, uncles and cousins crowded around big tables at my Grandma’s house. Other years, we’d spend the holiday at our own home, with a special vegetarian thanksgiving meal: rich autumn squash, bright cranberries and nutty wild rice were some of my favorite dishes.
At every Thanksgiving meal, we would go around the table and tell each other what we were grateful for. We’d share everything that came to mind, from the simple and immediate blessings of family, food and shelter to more complicated and specific things: the calm light on the prairie grasses we saw on the drive to Thanksgiving, the successful healing of an illness. Some years, my birthday landed on Thanksgiving, an extra treat to be thankful for.
This year, far from family, I did a journaling exercise, creating a long but incomplete list of things I’m grateful for. I’d like to share it with you, in hopes that you make your own list in writing! Writing and sharing are each powerful in different ways. When I write the things I’m grateful for, I can linger in reflection on each item and what it means to me. When I share aloud with others, I get to see the light in their eyes, and that mirrors and affirms my thanks.
What I’m grateful for
I’m grateful for my voice, my heart, my mind, my body. My spirit that holds all of these and is carried inside of each of them.
I’m grateful for my connection to my friends and family. I’m grateful for the incredible love that they have for me. I’m grateful that they take the time and energy to remind me that they love me!
I’m grateful for each of the people who joined the video call for my surprise birthday party!
I’m grateful for each of my friends who has supported me when I was not feeling well. I’m grateful to have access to medical care when I know that so many people around me don’t.
I’m grateful that my country’s government is showing signs of taking the climate crisis seriously.
I’m grateful for art that inspires me.
I’m grateful for my ancestors that made me who I am, as I exist in the world, and for the great range of human ancestors who passed down gifts of knowledge, experience and creativity through generations in forms as easily taken for granted as clothing and as profound as the layered traditions of spirituality and art.
I’m grateful for the opportunity to do meaningful work with great people and for people who appreciate it.
I’m grateful for my natural ability to increase my skills and ability to make my gifts manifest in the world. I’m grateful that growth is an intrinsic human characteristic. I’m grateful that I can grow simply by putting myself in contact with the materials and practices that really matter to me.
I’m grateful that people care about one another. I’m grateful that humans have an inclination toward good, that we have better angels in our nature.
I’m grateful that I trust and believe in my fellow peoples’ good intentions. I’m grateful for each person who wants to make the world a better place, deep in their hearts.
I’m grateful that people search for ways to make the world better. I’m grateful that we remind one another that there are opportunities and needs to address.
I’m grateful for the passion and optimism that gets me up in the morning. I’m grateful for my opportunity to define and make a difference.
I’m grateful for the privilege I have.
I’m grateful that I have enough to eat, that I’m comfortable and the city where I live is peaceful and calm.
I’m grateful that I’m living in a time when I can connect with people from all around the world instantly.
I’m grateful that I’m learning to take a measured approach to the bounty of information, needs, opportunities, problems that exist in the limited span of time and the limited space of the world.
I’m grateful for all that I’ll never know.
I’m grateful that I am becoming more mindful, that I want to be more kind, that I’m practicing communicating and interacting in more human ways.
I’m grateful that I have an opportunity to collect experience and knowledge, the skills to process them, and the means to share them with others.
I’m grateful for the people around me, who encourage me to keep going, even when it’s hard, especially when it’s hard.
What are you grateful for? Write your own list, to reflect on by yourself, or to share with others!