One of my most memorable Thanksgivings was Thanksgiving 2008. I was traveling in South America and the week of Thanksgiving found me working on a small farm outside Santiago, Chile in exchange for room and board. I was working there with a fellow friend and traveler, and for the most part, we had the run of the farm. It was us helping out the 80 year old guy, Don Chivo, that actually kept the place going.
When we realized it was Thanksgiving, we tried to get the proper food supplies to make a Thanksgiving dinner. We tried to get turkey, but the closest thing we could find was a small chicken. The vegetables available to us were only onions. Luckily, I had found some Philidelphia (what they called cream cheese down there) and stocked up on crackers to make a cheesecake for dessert.
The chicken ended up being cooked almost entirely in beer (flavor! and moisture!) with some lemons from the tree and onions from the ground for flavor. The cheesecake took about 3 hours to bake properly, but by the end of the day, it was ready to be eaten.
We gorged ourselves. Don Chivo came to check out our makeshift feast, and was pretty amused and confused by us.
Our Spanish was patchy and the communication was a bit unclear. Translated back to English, here’s how we tried to explain our beer bathed chicken and cheesecake.
We celebrate the peace our country found with native people! Before they really knocked them around. It’s traditional! It’s a big family holiday! We use it to say Thanks.
“But Ellen, you should give thanks everyday.” He responded.
A big chagrined, I tried to explain that I do, but it’s hard to remember to everyday. And that I’m not religious, so I don’t say grace, but I do believe in being grateful for and blessing food. It got complicated, quick, and in the end, he’s totally right.
It’s wonderful to take a day to dedicate to saying Thanks. To spend time with your family, to call your friends, to eat some good food. However, the rest of the days of the year need that attention too.
What do do?
I have a dedicated gratitude book that when I’m feeling in a particular funk, I go write in. Sure I write in it when I’m really happy too, that helps capture that energy and memory. But I find I cannot stay as angry or frustrated after writing for 10 minutes all the things I am Thankful for. This means going deeper than “I’m grateful that I woke up today and for my family and dog.” (Although I seriously am, all the time) Writing for 10 minutes forces you to dig down a little deeper. “I’m glad my date canceled tonight because it gave me time to go to the gym, which my body has been craving, and have a little ‘me’ time.”
Find a place you can write by hand, and do 10 minutes of gratitude. Do that everyday for 3 weeks and watch how your life changes!
Want something a little more interactive than that? I’m hosting 25 days of Gratitude this December, as a way to combat the Holiday crazy and stay connected to this lovely giving thanks energy that permeates November. Got something you’re grateful for? Post it on Girafa Coaching’s facebook wall or tag Girafa Coaching, and you’ll get the support and appreciation of the entire Creative Giraffe community! Love twitter? Let’s use #25daysofgratitude
Here’s my (partial) gratitude list for today:
I am grateful for my cozy room to listen to the rain in the trees.
I am thankful for my friends, who are the most supportive people on the planet.
I’m grateful the lady at the gym took the time to explain all the machines to me, and that it was fairly empty so it was not that publicly embarrassing.
I am grateful for my sleeping puppy.
I am grateful for my clients and the wonderful work I get to do.
I am thankful for my teachers and spiritual guides.
I am grateful for my family and the ways they challenge and strengthen me.
I am grateful for every piece of feedback or comment I get on my writing & work. Each one makes me tingle with excitement.
I am thankful for surprises.
I’d love to hear some of yours! Share in the comments, it seriously makes my day 🙂
Ellen Ercolini is a Career and Life Coach dedicated to helping you figure our your life passion and purpose, so you can have the profession (and profits!) you want. Curious how she can impact your life? Schedule your free ‘uncork your awesome’ session with her here.