Greetings Family and Friends,
How many times a day do you say thank you?
Does your heart feel thankful? What is thankfulness? These are the questions on the tip of our tongues as we move into November.
THE MEANING OF THANKFULNESS
/ˈθæŋk.fəl.nəs/ the feeling of being happy or grateful because of something: "I felt a deep glow of affection and thankfulness for her kindness."
This month we encourage you to display gestures of thankfulness daily. It sounds like a big commitment; however, you'd be surprised at what can happen when you look for the good in all things.
Our health. Our family. Our jobs. Our neighbors. Our children, grandchildren, and friends. The person that lets you move over in traffic. The grocery clerk for bagging your food, and of course, the grace you give yourself.
November also marks the month that we celebrate.
Thanksgiving is a gathering that signifies the harvest and other blessings of the past year.
For many this time of year is a joy, for others, it is a very lonely time. The loss of a loved one can create a void and a feeling of wanting to be alone, especially during the holiday season. This month be sure to reach out to family and friends and make sure they hear the words on the tip of your tongue - "I'm thankful you are in my life." If you have an empty seat at your table invite a friend who has had a loss, if they are not feeling up to it, take the time to deliver a plate.
I hear people say, “I don’t have time!” Time is all we have!
If you have lost a loved one, it is time to set a place at the table for memories and to be thankful for all that they have done to make your life have purpose.
See how many thankful moments you can collect and create this month. It will not only bring joy into your life, but it will lift others around you that need encouragement, and at these times - we could all use a little encouragement and a reminder to be thankful.
Happy Thanks-giving to all!
1. Go for a walk in the woods Fall is the perfect season to get out there to enjoy the changing weather and the beauty that nature has provided. Gather the family for a remembrance walk in honor of your loved one who has died. 2. Take a funny family photo Life is precious and can sometimes be so fleeting. Make it a tradition to take a yearly family photo at Thanksgiving in an informal setting that is both fun and funny. Memories like these will bring you joy when you look back at your photos and reminisce. Perhaps this can be the start of an “ugly sweater photo” opportunity or something similar to add cheer to your holiday. 3. Bake some goodies An excellent way to include your deceased loved one in some of your new family traditions is to have each guest bring a home-baked bread, pie, or cake that was one of your loved one’s favorites. 4. Share some memories After serving dinner and having your bake-off winners selected, move the celebration over to the family room for some storytime. Candles or a hearth fire can add to the warmth of the occasion where you sit and tell stories of your loved one. Ask everyone to share their favorite memories of the deceased. 5. Visit the gravesite Schedule some time during the extended holiday break to visit your loved one’s graveside or the location where you spread their ashes. Plan a solo trip or invite others to join you on your new yearly tradition. If there’s a grave, consider bringing some fresh seasonal flowers to adorn the area for the holiday. 6. Set up a memorial table Thanksgiving is a time when the family gathers around the table to eat, enjoy each other’s company, and celebrate the joys of the holiday season, giving thanks for all of the good things in one’s life. After the death of one of your family members, you may not feel like celebrating. The holidays will feel different now without their presence in the mix. 7. Set a place setting for them The Thanksgiving dinner celebration probably won’t feel the same without your loved one there. Consider setting up a place setting in their honor and leaving their seat empty as a reminder that they are still very much present in your thoughts and mind. The family will need to adjust to the open seat, but in time it will feel as normal as it would having them physically present. 8. Watch a favorite movie If binge-watching movies over the holiday weekend is a part of your family’s holiday tradition, consider watching your loved one’s favorite film in honor of their memory. Consider also pulling out old home movies and watching them together so that the essence of your loved one is present in your celebration. 9. Use old photos as place settings Keeping with the theme of using photographs and images of your loved one who’s died, you can add old photos of them to your place settings to mark who will sit where. Try to find individualized pictures of your deceased loved one and the person who is to sit at each designated chair. It’s a sweet and memorable way of sharing your loved ones’ memories. Your guests will surely appreciate the personalization of each place setting. 10. End the feasting with a toast Every celebration deserves a toast, so how about a toast to the departed to honor their life and the impact they made on your family? Go around to each guest and ask them to say a few words about your loved one and what they meant to them. Be careful not to force someone to participate if they aren’t comfortable with doing so. This is supposed to be a festive occasion and not one that makes your guests feel sad and uncomfortable. Examples of holiday toasts in memory of a departed loved one:
Over their hallowed graves may the winds of heaven whisper hourly benedictions.
She drank good ale, good punch, and wine and lived to the age of 99.
Time cuts down all, both great and small.
To live in the hearts we leave behind is not to die.
Celebrating Thanksgiving Without a Loved One Thanksgiving is a time to give thanks for the blessings in your life. When a loved one has died, it may be challenging to give thanks when you’re still grieving their loss. Creating new traditions and incorporating your deceased loved one in the old traditions can provide you with some peace and hope. Soon you may even be able to envision a future where things will get easier for you on every holiday.