Happy Thanksgiving Day. Beautiful nature background with woodenWhen we hear the word “Thanksgiving,” our thoughts may turn immediately to turkey and pumpkin pie.  But this uniquely American holiday can be a chance to deepen our gratitude for our blessings.  Here are some simple suggestions for recognizing and showing our gratitude.

1) Write it!  Individually or as a family, make a daily list of three things you’re thankful for.  Or for a family activity, write down the letters of the alphabet and come up with an item of gratitude for each letter.  You could do the same for the five senses, for the seasons of the year, or even go room to room and write down what you’re grateful for.  You could even tackle a Gratitude Photo Scavenger Hunt!

2) Craft it!  Create a wreath to display what you’re thankful for.  Make gratitude ornaments to hang on a tree in your yard or on your dining table.  Make stepping stones, an advent calendar, or a family flag.  These types of crafts will remind you of what you are thankful for every time you see them.

3) Serve it!  Nothing helps us recognize our blessings like realizing there are those around us who are in need.  Plan some service projects.  Collect canned items for the food bank, knit loom hats for the homeless, gather up coats and sweaters to donate to a shelter, or visit the elderly in your neighborhood.  There are a lot of leaves to be raked this time of year, so get out there and make someone’s day.

4) Express it!  Make an effort to tell those in your life what you appreciate about them.  Say a sincere thank you to someone who has helped or inspired you.  Reminisce with your parents and siblings about fun times you’ve had.  Text your gratitude, tweet it, write it in a thank you note, or draw it with sidewalk chalk on someone’s walkway.  Expressing gratitude makes it grow!

The stores may already be decorating for Christmas, but when we make an effort to truly feel thanksgiving, it will make the 4th Thursday of this month about more than turkey and pie.  Gratitude is a recipe for happiness, and that is the dish everyone wants second helpings of!