Traditionally, my family traveled to another city in North Carolina over the years for Thanksgiving.  It was like a mini family-reunion every year complete with lots of extended family.  We went because my grandparents were there and it pleased them for us to go.

A hallmark of the trip was the awkward interactions: Those interactions with distant family members whom we only saw on that occasion every year. We (my brother, sister, and I) could never remember their names or who exactly they were in the family.

“Hey!  Happy Thanksgiving!  So good to see you…how are things?”

“Great to see you too!” (clearly also not remembering our names) “Things are good!”

The other mainstay tradition was the “Thankfulness List” that my mom insisted we do every year.  As my siblings and I were packed in the back seat, mom had her captive audience.  She’d would force everyone to share something that they were thankful for that year  (under penalty of privileges lost).  Of course we complied, but only after a good deal of complaining and whining.

Each member of the family would go around and say one thing that we’re thankful for, and we’d make at least 3 rotations or so.  You couldn’t copy someone else’s – it had to be unique.

We hated it at the time, but it ingrained in me a sense of gratitude and the importance of setting aside time to remember your blessings and intentionally express your gratefulness for them.

While I hated it at the time, there’s no denying the fact that I’m a more grateful person now.  Sitting in that car, racking my brain about what  I could possibly be thankful for developed an awareness of the blessings I have and a gratitude for them.

Take time to be intentionally thankful this week.  Force your kids to do it to.  Maybe write an old-school thank-you note to someone you’re thankful for.  The more you practice gratitude, the more you’ll find yourself grateful for the many blessings in your life. 

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!

What’s your holiday tradition for expressing your gratitude and thankfulness?

Note: As I’m spending time with the family, I won’t be blogging again this week.  See you on Monday!