It’s November, and that lovely, dark, quiet time of year has come around again. Inevitably, one’s thoughts turn to Thanksgiving, and the yearly desire to make of it a meaningful celebration. I don’t want to sit on the sofa after dinner, feeling as heavy as that Great Pumpkin that graced the Co-op’s entryway last month. Instead, I want to cultivate a lightness of spirit and body, buoyed up by the desire to show gratitude for all the bounty of our beautiful Palouse home. There are so many ways to give thanks that this writer could not contain the list to 5. Here are a bounty of suggestions to add to your Thanksgiving celebration, feast or no feast.
1. That famous Pilgrim, Confucius, said that world peace begins with harmony in the family. So be sure to express your gratitude to your family members – be they blood relatives, or soul-family. Invite them to your feast; tell them about a time you remember they did something for you that had meaning
2. Value what you have. Thanksgiving brings family, which means a big clean up at our house. Even if you’ll celebrate at someone else’s house this year, make clean up time with your kids a ritual of thanking the things they value. You could even have them designate a certain shelf or box for the most treasured items.
3. Show Mother Earth your gratitude. Renew your intention to reduce, reuse, recycle. Give away what you don’t need.
4. If your kids like costumes and music, help them create and share a Thanksgiving parade. If the date comes with snow and ice this year, you can still parade through your house.
5. Help those less fortunate, rake the leaves on an elderly neighbor’s lawn or shovel the snow off their walk.
6. Got a neighbor who lives far from family? Invite them to join your feast. Share what you have.
7. Write and mail those thank you notes that have been waiting for your attention! On the theory that late is better than never, get caught up now, and you may find your list of people to thank growing as you write. Keep a stack of note cards and stamps at the ready to extend this practice beyond just this time of year. BookPeople, the Pritchard Art Gallery shop and the Co-op carry lovely cards, some of them made by local artists and photographers.
8. Help your children bake cookies for their teachers and deliver them the day before Thanksgiving break begins. Bake more cookies, and bring them to the fire or police station. Deliver some goodies to the staff on duty at Gritman or Pullman Regional Hospital on Thanksgiving. The list of people who keep our community going through thick and thin is so long: letter carriers, garbage and recycling collectors, snow plow operators. All deserve our thanks.
In fact, why limit Thanksgiving to once a year? You could designate a "Thursday thank-you dinner" once a month to repeat the most important part of the holiday with a conversation about everything that your family has to be grateful for. And keep spreading those cookies and thank you notes around!