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Thanksgiving Dinner 'Rap'

By Carleton Kendrick

Do you want to use Thanksgiving Day 2004 to begin becoming a more grateful family? Giving thanks for one's blessings on Thanksgiving is traditional. Feeling grateful every day is an attitude and a way of experiencing life. If you wish to cultivate gratitude as a family value, here are a few questions designed to make giving thanks an integral, daily part of every family member's life.

How can we give thanks every day?

Focus on creating both individual and family rituals and practices of gratitude, like gratitude journals, being physically affectionate, family prayer and expressing words of appreciation and encouragement to each other (perhaps exchanged at the dinner table). Giving thanks on a daily experience establishes gratitude as a priority.

What do we take for granted that we might express thanks for every day?

We all need to open our eyes and to appreciate our daily gifts, like food, shelter, clothing, friendship, good health, the beauty of nature and the kindness of others. Talking about what could increase our awareness of these daily blessings would be productive.

Is doing for others a way of expressing gratitude?

Discuss how helping others is gratitude in action. You might not only prepare and/or help serve a holiday meal for a shelter but also talk about how your family can make a commitment of time and service to this shelter on a regular basis. Expressing gratitude by actively helping others on an ongoing basis can be one of your family's gratitude goals.

What attributes do you possess that you are thankful for?

This self-examination encourages self-gratitude, helping us pause to appreciate our skills, talents and personality traits. If we have lost sight of our special gifts, this gives family members an opportunity to point them out to us - "You are the best listener. You always manage to cheer us up when we’re down. You can fix anything that's broken."

Who has treated you with kindness and generosity and how would you like to thank them?

Gratitude toward others can take many forms - a homemade gift, a thank you card, a phone call, a spontaneous favor. Remembering those who have made us feel special and valued encourages us to become more aware and appreciative of human kindness. You might discuss showing your gratitude by passing on their kindness through your own acts of generosity.

Teaching your children by example how to make their gratitude known is at the core of teaching them how to appreciate and celebrate the abundance in their lives. These are lessons taught throughout a lifetime, not merely the discussions held on the fourth Thursday of November.

Carleton Kendrick, Ed.M.,LCSW received his undergraduate and graduate degrees from Harvard University and is a licensed psychotherapist. He offers individualized personal coaching for parents of adolescents at connectwithyourteen.com. Kendrick has been named by Family PC magazine as the best Internet expert on parenting teens.


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