Gratitude Letters

gratitude letterWith Thanksgiving ahead, this month is a time, at least in places that celebrate the holiday, where many look forward to a big meal with loved ones.  There are parades, there is football.  Pie.  Family and friends.  It is easy for many to be thankful for Thanksgiving, and all the treats the day brings, but truly taking the time to show our thankfulness for everything else in our lives.  Not just for a day of turkey and sides, but for the people we share the day with, the security of knowing there’s a big meal in store.

Showing that kind of thanks is not as easy.  Can we address our gratitude for these things with more than just passing thoughts, or an obligatory list dredged up when we’re reminded?  There are many different ways to show gratitude for the things in life you are thankful for.

Volunteering at a soup kitchen if you’re grateful for the ease and abundance of your meals.  Dropping off toys at a children’s hospital if you have healthy children of your own.  And of course, there are small, everyday ways to let those around us know we are thankful for them.  Simply voicing our appreciation when we usually don’t is a good start – thanking a spouse for taking out the trash, for example, or giving a wave and a smile to fellow driver who lets us ahead of them.

Little things we don’t always take note of or remember to appreciate, things that add up to make our day a nicer one, when we recognize and acknowledge them.  When we fill up our days with grateful reminders, it makes them more than just grateful days.  It gives us lives to be thankful for.

Words of Thanks From The Heart

One Thanksgiving, the year my first child was born, I realized I was filled up with thankfulness at the new life that had joined mine.  It made me aware of all the other wonderful things in my life, and made me want to acknowledge them in a more tangible way.  So that year, I wrote gratitude letters to the people in my life who I care about deeply – my parents and sisters.  My husband.  Friends who have been there since elementary school.  People whose presence in my life has improved and enriched it.

I even wrote a letter to my infant daughter, expressing as best I could the immense joy she brought to my life every day.  It was a small and simple thing to do, and the act of writing them was a gift to myself as well.  By recognizing the importance of these people, I was putting into words some of the memories and feelings that gave beauty and color to my life, reminding myself of how lucky I am to have them.

And of course, I was also letting them know how much I appreciate them always being there, year after year, for countless Thanksgivings.  Who in your life are you grateful for?  How can you let them know?  A letter of carefully and lovingly chosen words?  A phone call?  A helping hand?  Reach out to the people who help make your life a thankful one.  Let them see your love and gratitude at having them in your life.

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