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Gratitude for the Holidays

by Sherri Gerek on 10/25/18



Dear Sherri:

Thanksgiving is just around the corner, and I would like to start a new tradition for our family that goes beyond the holiday meal.  Generally we focus on ‘the bird’ and ‘the pigskin’ around here.  After hours of preparing turkey dinner which is gone in exactly twenty minutes flat, everyone retires to the family room to watch football.  I’m not complaining.  It’s wonderful that most of our extended family members live close by, and we get to spend holidays together.  I was just thinking it would be more meaningful if we were to find a way to express gratefulness, in the true sense of the word.  Now, I don’t know about your family, but I can already see the ‘eye rolls’ beginning with our teens if I were to suggest this over dinner.  I wonder if you have any ideas you would be willing to share on how we might incorporate gratitude into our holiday gathering in a way that is both fun, and inspiring.



Grateful gathering


Dear Grateful:

You have described a pretty typical Thanksgiving gathering for most families, and how true it is that dinner takes hours to prepare and only minutes to devour! Perhaps we should hold off on serving the pie and coffee just awhile longer. . .

I envision your home as a bustling hub of holiday activity filled with warm hearts, and plenty of good to go around.  Excellent!  It’s lovely that you are looking for ways to make your gathering more meaningful while at the same time incorporate some fun.  After all, eye rolls are not just limited to teens, so you may as well make it enjoyable for all concerned.


There are a number of ways you could introduce a gratitude tradition to your family gathering.  One way is to add each family member’s name to a basket that is passed around the table.   Each person would draw one name from the basket and when it is their turn, share what they most appreciate about that person, or what having that person in their life means to them.  


Another idea would be to write each family member’s name on a separate sheet of paper.  Place the papers on a table with pens, and maybe a thesaurus, if you have one.  As guests arrive ask them to add a few encouraging words to each person’s list.  Specifically, you could ask them to list the three most inspiring or positive attributes they see in that person.  After everyone has had a chance to fill them out, gather the lists, and pass them out after dinner.  Taking turns, each person would read the list aloud, and share their best attributes, as seen through the eyes of their family.  I recommend that you have a box of Kleenex on hand as most people are not accustomed to being complimented openly in this way.  It is likely the expressions of love and appreciation will bring many to tears.  Happy tears, but nonetheless there will be tears – I guarantee it!


These are just a couple of activities that are fun for the whole family and meaningful to young and old alike.  What a beautiful way to share thankfulness, and bring more meaning to the season.   


Wishing you all a warm and wonderful holiday season! With heartfelt gratitude, Sherri.


Note to all –  Consider the ways you might also incorporate a gratitude practice into your family gathering this holiday season.  What benefits, if any, could a gratitude practice offer your family long after the holiday has passed?


You can pick-up a copy of Sherri's book, The Hummingbird Way, on,, and as an eBook anywhere eBooks are sold.  Signed copies are available on for $18.95 US includes shipping in the USA.  


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