Gratitude Month: November 23
Today’s post is part of the gratitude series in the paid subscriber community AND it is open for the entire Cottage community.
In the United States, it is the day before Thanksgiving — a day to celebrate harvest, abundance, and the gifts that grace our lives.
I’m grateful that you’ve joined me here. Through words and stories, we’re setting a table where all are welcome and all are fed.
Here are some morsels to inspire deeper gratitude this Thanksgiving. May you see the gifts that surround you more clearly; may you experience new connections of friendship and community.
Thanksgiving is more than a day. It is a practice today and every day.
Build longer tables, not higher walls.
— José Andrés
Even though I wrote a book about gratitude, I often stumble at the beginning of Thanksgiving dinner over the awkward question: What are you grateful for this year?
Instead of struggling for a spontaneous answer, I invite you to think ahead about THE question ahead of time: What are you grateful for this year?
Practice your answer here. Share it with us. What will you say if and when you are asked this question?
And if no one asks you at the table, I’m asking you here. Around our table.
What are you grateful for this year?
From my Thanksgiving post last year — some reflections on “What are you grateful for?”
The typical Thanksgiving table ritual is framed with a question: “What are you grateful for?” While the sentiment is noble — to turn everyone’s mind toward the many gifts of the year — it isn’t always helpful to say "I'm grateful FOR..." Notice what happens. We express gratitude about material things, successes, and whatever we consider to be blessings. In effect, when we use the word “for,” we turn thankfulness into a commodity — we are grateful for the stuff of our lives.
Certainly, we can and should be grateful for life’s material blessings. But gratitude is more than the preposition for. Other prepositions open our imagination to see and experience gratefulness as something deeper than appreciation for things.
The pandemic, with all its loss and suffering, and the continued division in our social lives, families, and politics, has made giving thanks more difficult. Perhaps this Thanksgiving is a good time to ask some different questions regarding gratitude:
To whom or what are you grateful?
What challenges have you been grateful through?
Have you been grateful with others?
Where have you discovered gratitude within?
Has something in your life been changed by being grateful?
In what circumstances have you experienced thankfulness?
As a table liturgy, you might write out prepositions on cards — for, to, through, with, within, by, in — and put them at each plate. When you go around the table, have people share their gratitudes using these prompts. Alternately, you might ask people to write a for, to, through, with, within, by, or in gratitude on a card before the meal (so they think about it in advance) to be read around the table.
What are your prepositions of thanks?
A Thanksgiving Prayer
by Diana Butler Bass
God, there are days we do not feel grateful. When we are anxious or angry. When we feel alone. When we do not understand what is happening in the world or with our neighbors. When the news is bleak, confusing. God, we struggle to feel grateful.
But this Thanksgiving, we choose gratitude.
We choose to accept life as a gift from you, and as a gift from the unfolding work of all creation.
We choose to be grateful for the earth from which our food comes; for the water that gives life; and for the air we all breathe.
We choose to thank our ancestors, those who came before us, grateful for their stories and struggles, and we receive their wisdom as a continuing gift for today.
We choose to see our families and friends with new eyes, appreciating and accepting them for who they are. We are thankful for our homes, whether humble or grand.
We will be grateful for our neighbors, no matter how they voted, whatever our differences, or how much we feel hurt or misunderstood by them.
We choose to see the whole planet as our shared commons, the stage of the future of humankind and creation.
God, this Thanksgiving, we do not give thanks. We choose it. We make this choice of thanks with courageous hearts, knowing that it is humbling to say “thank you.” We choose to see your sacred generosity, aware that we live in an infinite circle of gratitude. That we all are guests at a hospitable table around which gifts are passed and received. We will not let anything opposed to love take over this table. Instead, we choose grace, free and unmerited love, the giftedness of life everywhere. In this choosing, and in the making, we will pass gratitude onto the world.
Thus, with you, and with all those gathered at this table, we pledge to make thanks. We ask you to strengthen us in this resolve. Here, now, and into the future. Around our family table. Around the table of our nation. Around the table of the earth.
We choose thanks.
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Gratefulness establishes bonds of human respect stronger than all other considerations. Thanksgiving Day is our great chance to wake up and give more importance to those bonds that unite us than to ideologies dividing us; to wake up to how trifling the convictions that divide us are, compared to the challenges we can only tackle together; to wake up and commit ourselves to act accordingly.
— Brother David Steindl-Rast
If you are a Sirius XM subscriber, I’ll be on John Fugelsang’s Tell Me Everything this weekend for his Thanksgiving show. I think the first broadcast will be on Wednesday night — and it will be rerun several times during the holiday. We really enjoyed our conversation about the good — and bad — of gratitude. His show is on Progress 127, and the weekly schedule is below.
I enjoyed Carrie Newcomer’s reflection and gratitude practice from this past Sunday and wanted to share it with you.