Giving Thanks Eases The Holiday Blues – It’s All About Gratitude
BY PAT HANSON Ph.D.
My memories of Thanksgiving include smells of roasting turkey, sounds of shouting men watching football on TV, and visions of women in the kitchen or setting the table with gold-rimmed plates and real silverware. My job at seven years old was to tear slices of bread for the stuffing while watching Dumbo & Snow White float by in Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. As a child I didn’t really “get” what this holiday was about. I thought it was about food, or pilgrims dressed in black suits with big white collars in the school play. I didn’t realize it was about gratitude.
On holidays it’s easy to focus on what we are missing, i.e. that grandchild who is miles away or whose parents we are estranged from. That fixates us on lack, loneliness, longing, and loss and can be toxic. But you can choose a different focus. When I feel sad or mad, I look around and find something in my life to be thankful for. There is always something or someone to be grateful for. Look around. You’re alive; there’s food on your plate and a roof over your head. You are not a victim of a forest fire or hurricane, or a refugee from a war-torn country.
Mindful Actions Help You Focus on the Good
- Thank someone you haven’t who long ago played an important role in your life or did a favor for you recently. Make actual contact, or if you can’t reach that person, write a letter you won’t send. The energy of expressing and acknowledging gratitude goes a long way toward changing your focus.
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- Make a daily gratitude list. This is a useful year round. Mentally list three things you are thankful for, from the most mundane to the spectacular. Write them in a journal if you prefer.
- Start to leave your digital legacy or a scrapbook of memories in hopes that someday your children or grandchildren will look you up. Your grandkids are already online or will be soon. Sign up for the www.grandparentsacademy.com free Digital Legacy Growth Plan and develop and learn how to use the Internet (Facebook, YouTube videos, Pinterest, etc.) to grow meaningful relationships and rich legacies for them.
- Find family recipes and digitize them. There are many ways to print and even publish your own cookbook www.cookbookpublishers.com,www.createmycookbook.com, and www.diggypod.com/Make-A-Cookbook.
- Volunteer to serve at your local community foodbank or similar organization
- Make your own dinner, but get creative. Pretend it is a different holiday. Go wild! Make antipasto and lobster Fra ‘diablo, corn beef and cabbage, or matzo ball soup.
- Read a gripping novel, watch a favorite movie or re-runs of an old television series.
- Explore nature, take a hike in the woods or walk an ocean beach or just get outside and take a walk around your neighborhood.
- Spend Black Friday checking out a local museum or park you haven’t seen.
At this time of the year, it’s more important than ever to thank the universe, or god, or whatever force we believe is behind things, for the good in our lives. Because good can be found in every life.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Dr. Pat Hanson is a seasoned health educator, public speaker, and workshop facilitator. She is the author of Invisible Grandparenting: Leave A Legacy Of Love Whether You Can Be There or Not. She lectures nationally on Aging Positively and is a columnist for the magazine:Crone: Women Coming of Age