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Updated: Nov 27, 2023

It’s that time of year everyone gathers around the table with loved ones to give thanks and express gratitude for all we have. We serve dishes that connect us to our past and invite friends and families to share the stories behind their own recipes. We take turns going around the table, reciting what it is we’re most grateful for and embrace the warmth and community this day was built around. At least, it seems, that’s how it’s supposed to be.

If your upbringing and/or family is anything like mine your Thanksgivings look a bit different than the idyllic photos limited to the pages of home and garden magazines. A stressed out mother is confined to the kitchen, frustrated no one’s helping her but refusing to allow anyone in who dare tries. The aroma of a baking turkey is overpowered by stress sweat from chaotic people rushing to get dinner served by a time that’s always promised one to two hours ahead of when it should be. Going around the table is reserved for critiquing the meals' flaws so we’ll know what to make better next year, instead of expressing gratitude for what we have in the moment.

No matter the avenue it seems something is always lost; whether at the hands of timely chores steering our attention away from our family and guests or a familiar routine that eventually grows stale, numbing us to what's actually worth acknowledging. That’s why this year, I decided to lower my expectations, embrace life’s imperfections, and give the outdated “what are you grateful for?” a little refresh.

Whether you chose to answer them privately or collectively with your guests at dinner, the following questions may be the very thing to give your holiday that perfect blend of excitement, presence, and reflection we all crave - perhaps even more than this year's stuffing.

  1. What are you proud of having done/accomplished/completed this year?

  2. What do you currently have that you’re grateful for that perhaps you didn’t have last year?

  3. What are you looking forward to this time next year?

  4. What steps have you taken to get there and what ones can you take still?

  5. What things make you feel better that you could do more of?

  6. What would you currently like to change and what steps can you take to do so?

  7. What do you like about where you are now and how do you think you managed to get here?

  8. What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned this past year you’d like to apply moving forward?


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