“Give thanks for what you have been given.
Give a gift, in reciprocity for what you have taken.
Sustain the ones who sustain you and the earth will last forever.”
~ Robin Wall Kimmerer

As we enter the holiday season this year, we find ourselves continuing to navigate the impacts of the global pandemic. Connecting in person with loved ones may or may not feel possible, and gatherings may be shaped in new and different ways. Even amidst ongoing uncertainty, how might we embrace Thanksgiving as an opportunity to ritualize and reflect on what it means to live gratefully, every day? What feels sufficient, even abundant? What’s the invitation for this particular moment in time? Below we offer support in finding inspiration and opportunity this Thanksgiving.

Practices to Cultivate a Truly Grateful Thanksgiving

  • Begin your day by noticing your breath. Try to tune in to your breath before you get out of bed in the morning, before you even open your eyes. Notice the fact that you’re breathing. You’ve awoken to a new day, and you’re alive. Tune in to the way your body naturally inhales and exhales, about 1000 times an hour. Remember this gift of breath as precious and never a guarantee; it is something shared with all living beings. What arises when you remember this truth? How might gratefully tuning in to your breath change the way you awaken to the day?
  • Take time to tell someone in your life you appreciate them and why. Perhaps it’s someone you live with, someone who lives elsewhere whom you call or talk with virtually, a neighbor, or someone whose services are “essential” to you and others. If it’s someone you’re not able to connect with verbally at this time, perhaps you could write a letter or send an eCard. How does it feel to articulate your appreciation for someone? What happens in your body and your heart? How does it impact your sense of belonging?
  • Explore, read aloud, and share this collection of Thanksgiving Blessings from voices around the globe, as you deepen a commitment to gratefulness for the gifts of life.
  • Enjoy these grateful living conversation starters for your virtual or in-person gathering. These prompts also work well for individual reflection or journaling.
  • “Give thanks for what you have been given,” says Robin Wall Kimmerer. We invite you to watch the beautiful, short video below — alone or with others — and to take time to give thanks for the sources of our nourishment. If you’re fortunate enough to have healthy food to eat on this day, how does your experience change when you pause to give thanks to the plants themselves and to honor all those whose labor and love have made this food possible?

  • “Grateful action is what puts the life into grateful living,” writes Kristi Nelson. Moved by the consideration of the blessings in your life, how are you called to serve others? Is there a neighbor who may be alone this holiday who would benefit from a home-cooked meal or piece of delicious pie delivered to their door? Is there an organization whose essential work could be enhanced by your contribution of time or treasure? How will your Thanksgiving week be made richer by serving others from a place of gratefulness?
  • Learn anew about Thanksgiving. While this holiday can feel celebratory for many, its inaccurate historical accounts of Native Americans can perpetuate ongoing harm and racism when left unaddressed. Acknowledging the presence of both pleasure and deep pain on this day, we invite you to explore the following resources. These offer the opportunity to redefine Thanksgiving and to actively change the way we celebrate, give thanks, honor the land, and cultivate communities of belonging — today and every day.

From all of us at A Network for Grateful Living, we give thanks for the opportunity to be in community with all of you. We wish you a Thanksgiving replete with opportunities to appreciate that which sustains, deepens, and enlivens you.

May you, your loved, ones, and all the inhabitants of our Earth be well.


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