A Different Thanks Giving

Tired of going around the Thanksgiving table at mumbling something you're supposed to be grateful for?
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00:01 all right welcome back uh thanksgiving
00:04 is upon us in the united states anyway
00:07 and if you’re like um my family
00:10 a lot of times and friends what we’ve
00:12 done at thanksgiving has sort of
00:14 gone around the table and said what
00:16 you’re thankful for
00:17 and everybody kind of like mopes along
00:20 and does it and says something
00:22 vague and impersonal
00:25 like i’m thankful for my health or i’m
00:28 thankful my family is all together
00:30 and really everybody’s just kind of
00:32 irritated because this is boring and
00:34 tedious and the turkey’s getting cold
00:36 and everyone’s like it
00:38 and so i want to give a different
00:42 take on thanksgiving as a as a giving
00:46 thanks
00:47 practice we’ve all been told i don’t if
00:50 you’ve been told i’ve been told a lot of
00:52 times that you should be having
00:54 we all should be having regular
00:56 gratitude practices
00:58 when they do studies of people they find
01:00 the people that live the longest and the
01:01 happiest
01:02 have some regular gratitude practice and
01:04 so everybody should be doing
01:06 a regular practice of gratitude and
01:07 writing down three things in a journal
01:09 gratitude journal every night and
01:11 and i think what a lot of these
01:13 admonitions do
01:14 is just make us feel guilty about not
01:17 being more
01:18 grateful and being in great and
01:20 unthankful and
01:21 and privileged and entitled and i don’t
01:23 even want to
01:25 think about that that might be the case
01:27 and so i’m just going to ignore all this
01:30 really good advice
01:31 on on gratitude and being thankful and
01:33 and it comes up again during
01:35 thanksgiving everybody’s sitting around
01:36 the table and it’s kind of the same
01:38 all the time it’s like yeah i’m grateful
01:40 for this thing i’ll come up with
01:41 something
01:42 but i don’t really feel it and so the
01:44 thing that i would i would suggest that
01:46 we do instead
01:47 instead of going around the table
01:49 because if your family is anything like
01:51 mine
01:52 this year i’m not even getting together
01:54 with my family and
01:55 i’m sad about that and and that’s just
01:58 the way it is because of covid and
02:00 everything
02:01 and so we’re all a part and we’re doing
02:03 small thanksgiving here and there with
02:04 other people but
02:06 this is in my mind a different
02:08 thanksgiving and so we can
02:10 offer thanks in a different way so
02:13 here’s what i propose
02:16 take a few minutes before thursday
02:18 because by then it’ll be too late never
02:20 you’ll be
02:21 busy trying to cook turkey because mom’s
02:23 not here nobody knows how to make gravy
02:25 and all that
02:26 so take a few minutes on wednesday night
02:28 or thursday morning or something
02:29 and think about somebody in your life
02:32 that has touched your life
02:33 somebody that has impacted your life in
02:36 some
02:37 positive way call them
02:41 on the phone don’t zoom don’t
02:44 text don’t get on call them on the phone
02:48 or walk over there if you’re nearby and
02:50 say hey
02:51 it’s thanksgiving i just wanted to say
02:54 uh
02:55 when you did this thing and give them a
02:57 very specific example
02:58 when you did this thing that measurably
03:02 improved my life my the quality of my
03:04 life has been better
03:06 since then because of that and i wanted
03:08 to say thank you
03:11 now this is a very different kind of
03:12 gratitude practice than
03:14 than going on and saying yes i’m happy
03:17 that
03:18 i can still run that’s great i’m happy
03:21 that i still have a job
03:22 cool what i’m asking for is is if you
03:25 actually make this very directed and at
03:28 somebody and you say it to that person
03:30 and it’s about a very
03:32 specific moment in time then it’s hard
03:35 to
03:35 have it abstract it makes it very
03:37 personal inside of us
03:38 and we actually feel it
03:42 more it’s a visceral feeling i might i
03:45 might i might say to my uncle
03:48 hey uncle phil he’s probably watching
03:50 this so hey
03:51 uncle phil uh when you took me camping
03:54 me and my stepbrother and we went up to
03:56 maine
03:57 and we were reading that book that you
03:59 gave us to read and we’re all taking
04:01 turns reading it out loud
04:03 i felt really privileged and a part of
04:06 something
04:06 and and it taught me something that i’ve
04:09 kept
04:10 with me throughout my entire life and i
04:13 always remember that camping trip it was
04:14 very special to me and i want to thank
04:17 you
04:17 for taking us on that trip that’d be an
04:21 example it’s to somebody
04:22 it’s personal it’s about a specific
04:24 event and
04:27 it’s a little bit harder uh sometimes
04:30 people might might hear this
04:32 this advice and say whoa that’s a little
04:34 too intimate i don’t know
04:35 my family uh we don’t really do that
04:39 like okay it doesn’t have to be family
04:40 it can be friends it could be mentors
04:42 it could be former bosses or employees
04:46 co-workers it could anybody that’s
04:48 touched your life in some way
04:51 yeah it might be a really vulnerable
04:52 thing and it might be
04:54 a little too intimate for comfort but if
04:57 they’ve really touched your life in a
04:58 way that’s
04:59 that’s made a difference for you then
05:02 in my opinion it’s worth
05:05 facing that discomfort in order to let
05:07 them know this is one of those things
05:09 that can
05:10 totally make a person’s day on holidays
05:13 that are often
05:14 fall a little bit flat it can totally
05:16 make somebody’s day
05:18 to hear that they have meaningfully
05:21 touched
05:21 someone else and so it’s it’s it’s a
05:24 it’s a gift
05:25 we are giving thanks we are giving this
05:28 gift of somebody else
05:29 saying thank you for giving me this
05:32 present this gift of
05:33 of whatever it was and you’re giving
05:35 them back by acknowledging them
05:38 so that’s it please try this out
05:41 let me know send me an email put a post
05:44 uh
05:44 here let us know how all this went i’d
05:46 love to hear your experiences of it
05:49 thank you very much and and have a
05:50 wonderful thanksgiving
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Tired of going around the Thanksgiving table, mumbling something you’re supposed to be grateful for white the turkey is getting cold?

Try this for Thanksgiving instead.

  1. Think of a person that has touched your life in some meaningful and positive way.
  2. Remember a specific moment that remember clearly. It doesn’t have to be important, it just needs to have stuck with you
  3. Tell them.

“John, do you remember that time when you picked me up from the doctor because I had anesthesia and couldn’t drive myself? That may be the first time I really experienced friendship in a way that wasn’t about just hanging out and having fun. It may seem like no big deal to drive me home, but it meant a lot to me and it still does. Thank you.”

Remember, make it specific and make it personal. This may feel difficult, vulnerable, too intimate. But this person memorably improved your life, isn’t it worth the discomfort to give them the gift of letting them know.

This is how we Give Thanks. It’s a gift we give others by acknowledging them.

Also, do it in person or over the phone. A recent study showed that video chat doesn’t make people feel more connected than a phone call, it’s the voice that matters most. Email/texting is less connecting still. Also, people tend to avoid intimate conversations because they can be awkward or they don’t want to force it on others. And these fears are nearly always unwarranted. Having the conversation is almost always better than not having it.


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Tim has been practicing and teaching interpersonal relations and communications skills since 2006. He leads the esteemed Boulder T-Group community and has taught circling and relational leadership for the Integral Center and C4 Institute.


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