We have a great friend who, on New Year's Eve, asks us to share a fond memory from the past year and something we are looking forward to in the coming year. It's a simple way of recognizing the holiday's meaning and encouraging a thankful heart as we celebrate.
As Thanksgiving approaches, Lily and I have been talking about ways to have a similar conversation at the table. A conversation that goes beyond the simple "what is one thing you're thankful for" generic question. And let's be honest, the answers are always "family, friends, health, a roof over our heads" and rightfully so. However, this season we want to go a little deeper.
Family : I'm thankful to watch the joy my daughter exhibits every time she sees the kitty cats. I'm thankful for a husband who loved me through crazy pregnancy emotions and meltdowns.
Friends : I'm thankful for the memories of belly laughing while eating at our favorite Thai restaurant and for the means to purchase food out.
Better, right? It's so much richer to share a story that leaves a sweet scent in the air and a glowing memory as we stuff that last bite of pumpkin pie in our mouths. So go ahead and ask folks to share what they are thankful for, but ask for something specific. Or, ask guests to bring a favorite family dish and share a fond memory associated with that dish. If you're really brave and celebrating with a group that all knows one another, ask guests to share something for which they're thankful about the person on their left.
Of course for some folks it has been a particularly trying year. We're all in different places, dealing with different struggles and joys. So, we recommend opening the conversation up in a gentle way and don't expect everyone to answer, this isn't 9th grade English so no need to call on the person not making eye contact with the teacher. Also, go first! Set the example -- a thankful heart is contagious.