I remember celebrating Thanksgiving when I was a kid, so excited because it meant we could finally put up our Christmas tree (dad’s rule). Not that we didn’t celebrate Thanksgiving (we did, my family loves to eat), but I just thought of it as a kick-off to my favorite time of year. As many cookies as I could eat, presents, time with family, Christmas songs on the radio all day, every day…
It wasn’t until I moved away from my family that I realized how much I treasured our Thanksgiving Day traditions. I try to sprinkle them in now, as we start to develop our own family traditions. Here’s what I’m looking forward to next week:
Getting out just a few Christmas decorations (I’ve decided that tree-trimming deserves its own special day)
Looking over my to-do list above, I’m grateful I have a job that doesn’t require me to work on Thanksgiving (or the day after, for that matter). Because I spent many holidays away from my family due to a work schedule, I am more careful about how I support companies that have open hours on holidays. I get the fun of Black Friday shopping, but when you think about a mom who had to go to bed early on Thanksgiving so she could be awake at 4am to get to work the next day… 50% off a TV doesn’t really seem to matter. At least to me, I guess. Remember to laugh, love, and be thankful next week – even if your crazy uncle gets on your nerves.
It’s a bit too early for New Year’s Resolutions, but a big focus for me in 2015 will be being better at keeping in touch with friends and family. More texts, more phone calls, more trips… and more letter writing. As technology has given us instant access to every person we’ve ever met, we’ve in turn forgotten the art of handwriting letters. Who wouldn’t swoon if they received a beautiful, handwritten love letter?
In spirit of this month’s theme, I thought it would be a great project to write thank-you notes and notes of gratitude to get started in the letter writing business. We have another trip to Michigan coming up, so why not send a handwritten thank-you to our hosts once we get back? With Veteran’s Day on Wednesday, I plan on writing a letter of thanks for one or two of our service men/women, as part of Operation Gratitude.
I remember writing our thank-you postcards after our wedding. It was important for us to write each one by hand and specifically thank each guest for their contribution to our special day. Here are my tips for writing the perfect thank you:
Get the greeting right. Always triple-check your spelling of names, use nicknames when appropriate (my sister will always be “wee-butt” to me), include everyone from the household who contributed to your gift/good fortune.
Begin withthank you. Focus on the purpose of the letter or note, why the recipient(s) are receiving your note. Thank you for the lovely glass bowl… or I can’t thank you enough for attending my birthday party…
Include details. Describe how you’re going to enjoy your gift – or better yet, include a picture of it in use! If you received cash or a gift card, tell them what you plan on spending it on (if appropriate, of course!). If they showed up for an event, thank them for being a part of an important day for you. A small sentence of gratitude can pack a big punch.
Make plans. If you will see this person in the near future, include that you are looking forward to spending time them again soon. If it’s a long-distance friend or family member, tell them you miss them and are thinking of them.
Go out with a bang. I’m still working on my signature sign-off (so far, love+light is the frontrunner), but you don’t need one to end on a happy note. A good ole’ with love or many thanks will do the job.
I plan on making my own stationary, but there are plenty of options out there for beautiful paper products. I’m most excited about the new Happy Mail monthly subscription from A Beautiful Mess + Studio Calico. I pre-ordered the first month’s kit and think it’s such a sweet idea – a little motivation to help me maintain my year of staying connected. Do you still send letters or are you all digital? I’m curious if anyone out there is keeping an old tradition alive!
If you are paying any attention to TV ads or have been into any store lately, you’d think it was Christmas already. Don’t get me wrong, Christmas is my favorite holiday season and I will celebrate it to the fullest – starting the day after Thanksgiving.
Even though I’m not celebrating a successful harvest, Thanksgiving is a wonderful tradition – it refocuses me on being present in the moment and being grateful for the life I have. It’s easy to be stressed – life is full of little mishaps and big shake-ups that can add negativity… if you let it. Sure you got a flat tire on the way home, but you can be grateful for the fact you don’t have to take the bus every day. Or maybe a close friend passed away, but you can reflect on the time you had together and be grateful for the relationship. Perspective is everything, and it’s something I have to remind myself of every day.
Part of my journey is writing a few days a week here (if I can swing it). It’s not a journal and I am making a conscience effort to keep it positive – not because I want people who stumble upon this space to think I don’t have fights with my friends or get sad… negativity inspires personal growth and I embrace opportunities to make myself a better person. But being grateful every day for the blessings you have can reset your mind to react to situations differently and generally make you a happier person. Who doesn’t want that?
This month I want to explore living gratefully, whether it’s through meditation, volunteering, connecting with friends and family, or celebrating a holiday with good food and great company.
I want to sign off with a TedTalk that has inspired me, and I hope it does the same for you.