This past weekend was Thanksgiving weekend in Canada. I love Thanksgiving because gratitude has changed my life. I think Amy Collette said it best when she said, “gratitude is a powerful catalyst for happiness. It’s the spark that lights a fire of joy in your soul.”
I spent the weekend with family. I come from a family of seven total, my parents, three sisters and a brother. When you mix in brothers-in-law, my brother’s girlfriend, and the nieces and nephew, we total 16 people. It’s a big undertaking for someone to host all of us. Luckily, my eldest sister stepped up to the plate this year. And because it’s a 2.5-hour drive, I usually spend a night or two there.
This year, we met up with a close friend at the local apple orchard for fall photos, then we spent the remainder of the weekend, chatting, laughing, and cooking.
We all gathered around a big harvest table and enjoyed a delicious home-cooked meal. The room was filled with stories, laughter, and the sound of kids having fun.
Admittedly, there were moments of frustration.
As I drove home after the weekend, my daughter napped in the back seat, and I reflected on the weekend. And my heart filled with so much gratitude and love.
It hasn’t always been this way. As is the case with many people, family time and holidays meant drama, me not expressing how I felt about family matters and seething on the inside.
Sometimes aggravated for weeks after a get-together, replaying the story of how wrong a family member was for saying whatever it was that they did. Standing firm in my decision not to speak to them for a long time.
Although there are several factors at play as to why my family, or any family for that matter, spent family functions disagreeing, for me, there were two main reasons. One is/was my inability to set healthy boundaries and the other was choosing how I felt and how I responded to any given situation.
While I continue to work on those, one of the biggest game-changers has been starting a daily gratitude practice. Every night before bed, I write down ten things that happened that day that I am grateful for and why. Some days are easy. Other days, I struggle to find two but the reality is that we have many things we can be grateful for every single day.
Gratitude has changed many of my relationships. My relationship with myself, my friends, family, and even strangers.
Acknowledging the good things in life and others, whether they know it or not, helps you to see them from a different perspective.
The fact that my parents and siblings are all alive and well is one thing I remind myself of daily. They are my rock. Always there to support me.
The sound of laughter and kids playing filled the room every day. A reminder of my own childhood and time spent with my cousins.
The abundance of food.
Memories that will be cherished.
A weekend filled with love.
And for that, I am grateful.
I realize that it’s only October but with the holiday season fast approaching, I know that this can be a stressful time between dealing with family, holiday parties, and the usual busyness of the season. But I would also like to invite you to take a minute to plan how you can have less stressful holidays this year. What can you say no to? What boundaries can you set now? What family members can you write a gratitude list for so that you can see the things about them that you do appreciate?