While Thanksgiving may be the designated holiday to give thanks for all the goodness in our lives, we should always remember to carry those feelings of gratitude with us always — before, during, and after Nov. 24.
And even though many of us can agree that 2016 was a tough year, there is still so much to look back on and smile about, whether that be a new birth in the family, a job promotion, a nice interaction with an old friend, or simply a nice sunny day we enjoyed.
Showing gratitude for those things doesn't just make us realize how fortunate we are, but can also brighten the day of those around us, and can make us happier overall. For those reasons alone, expressing thankfulness can be a good daily practice for all of us.
Here are 13 simple things you can do before, during, and after Thanksgiving to show the people around you that you care and appreciate them.
1. Hug someone.
If you are someone who struggles to express emotions verbally, simply hugging your loved ones can show how much they mean to you. This small gesture can be unexpected and go a long way.
2. Volunteer to do the tougher chores around the house.
There are those tasks that everybody wants to do, and those that nobody wants to even think about, like unclogging the sink, sifting through the compost, doing the dishes, picking up after the dog — you know the rest. Instead of resorting to drawing straws, next time volunteer to do the dirty work. This is a way to acknowledge your appreciation for someone else in your household without even saying a word.
3. Invite someone new to join your Thanksgiving.
You might know someone who doesn't have anyone close by to celebrate Thanksgiving or Friendsgiving with. Or maybe their plans fell through at the last minute. Extend an offer for them to join you. The more, the merrier. And remember, offering an invitation to hang out to those who may be without friends or family is a good thing to do any time of the year.
4. Write a note showing your appreciation.
Write a thoughtful letter for a person in your life who has been there for you. It doesn't have to be elaborate or even more than a few lines, just heartfelt and personal. And while people will always appreciate receiving a nice letter in the mail, any sort of note will do. It could be an email, a text, or even a note written on scrap paper just saying "You're the best." It's the fact that you've taken the time to write it that's important.
5. Smile more around those you love.
Smiles are contagious, and smiling around those you love is a great way to let your happiness shine through and spread to others. Even if you're feeling a bit down, offering a simple smile can be a quiet acknowledgment of love and appreciation.
6. Be present.
How often are you somewhere, but your mind is in about 20 other places? Clear out all of the background noise about Black Friday sales, looming deadlines, and unread texts and just focus on what you're doing in the present. Make eye contact, and be a good listener, without the distractions of your phone, computer, or television.
7. Appreciate the small things.
Friends, family, your career, and your health are all big things people think about around Thanksgiving. But it's also important to acknowledge the small, whether that be the food on your table, having clean water, or a comfy pair of shoes.
8. Say "thank you" and mean it.
How often do you say "Thank you" on autopilot? Next time you say the words, really think about the meaning behind them, and say them with intention.
9. Give someone a care package.
Sending someone a care package with random stuff they like can be a super thoughtful gift. Fill the package with little things that remind you of them, or things they'll think are funny. The more personalized it is, the better. And if it's right after Thanksgiving time, you can always send a package with the leftovers. Give them out to friends, family, and neighbors. You can even organize a leftovers potluck with your loved ones for a second celebration.
10. Be grateful of everyone's time.
Thanksgiving requires a lot of work and time. We know that the cooks and bakers spend hours preparing the feasts, but we also cannot forget about the relatives who drove a couple of hours just to be there. Show up on time and make valuable use of your hours together. That means being engaged and not on your phone.
11. Appreciate your furry friends.
Our pets love us unconditionally so make some time to show them gratitude. An extra walk, or even a belly rub will do the trick. If you don't have any pets but still want to show some love, volunteer at an animal shelter!
12. Say what you're feeling out loud.
We don't know what is going on in other people's heads. Plus, some of us are harder to read than others. Make it crystal clear how you feel about someone by telling them straight up. Saying "I love you" to those you don't say it to regularly can also mean a whole lot.
13. Make something for a friend, just 'cuz.
You don't have to wait for Thanksgiving to surprise a friend with a dish you made, and you don't have to wait for a birthday to give them a handmade macaroni frame either. Giving someone a DIY present at a totally random time can be a thoughtful way to just show you're thinking about them, and that they are worth your time and creativity. After all, handmade gifts are often the most personal.
Cover photo via Jenn Richardson I Unsplash