In the midst of the month of November, the flurry of meal preparation for the big day, the planning for Christmas and other upcoming holidays, it’s easy to lose sight of what this month is really about – giving thanks, showing appreciation and keeping a mindset of gratitude. It seems like November’s focus is always about the fourth Thursday, turkey and side dishes, pie and stuffing. But why not make the whole month about the act of thanksgiving? Even if you don’t celebrate the holiday, November can be made purposeful as a month of giving back.
Sometimes the lofty ideas of “gratitude” and “thankfulness” seem impossible to capture, so we talk about them for a little while then get discouraged as to what we can actually do. But the beauty of showing appreciation is that it doesn’t need to be complicated. The pressure of the perfect gift for someone, or the perfect thing to say is all imaginary – because what really matters is your intention and your actions from those intentions. Even a pinstrosity made with an appreciative heart is better than nothing done at all!
Here are five simple and easy ways to show thanks during the month of November –
Thank your neighborhood service people for the jobs that they do year round, in all kinds of weather.
This is something we typically do in December, for Christmas, but why not start early? As the weather turns cold, the mailman probably would love to see a little note of thanks in your box just for him (in the past, I’ve taped notes to the outside of the mailbox that are labeled ‘For Our Postman’.) Same with the garbage and recycling collectors – flag him (or her) down and let them know they are appreciated, or call your waste collection office and pass a word of thankfulness on there.
Beautify your neighborhood and your community.
As you walk the streets of your neighborhood, or around the places in your community, keep an eye out for ways you can make things a little better than when you found them. Push chairs back in around a table at a restaurant as you leave, toss stray trash into a nearby trashcan, wipe the prep counter down with a napkin when you’re done doctoring your Starbucks drink. These little acts show a thoughtfulness for those around you, and a thankfulness for the public amenities you enjoy everyday.
Plant surprises everywhere you go.
One of my most favorite things to do is surprise people, and I especially love doing this for complete strangers because they don’t expect it. Something like leaving a stack of spare change on top of the toy and candy dispensers outside of our local grocery store, in the hopes a little kid can treat him or herself to something fun just tickles me. We’re all familiar with the classic paying it forward while in line at your favorite coffee shop, but you could even expand on that by tacking on a sweet treat to their order (who doesn’t love getting a cake pop??) You never know – your little surprise may be just what that person needed to get through their day.
Be aware of those around you.
It’s easy to be wrapped up in your day and remain oblivious to what’s going on around you, but taking a few moments to listen and watch is a really great way to show some thankfulness. An act as simple as holding the door for a mother struggling with a stroller and diaper bag tells her that someone sees her. At your workplace, offering to refill someone’s mug on your way to the kitchen or grabbing something off the copier for a fellow co-worker are great ways to add a little brightness to someone’s day. You could even go one step further by dropping off a little gift like some Hershey kisses in a mug or a $5 Starbucks gift card to a neighbor, friend or coworker who recently celebrated something or needs a pick-me-up (or even just because!)
Write a note.
This is my favorite one, but it’s also the hardest because we are so busy that finding time to sit down and write a card seems near impossible. But who doesn’t love getting something in the mail that isn’t junk or a bill? A note sent to someone, with a few sentences as to why you are thankful for their presence in your life is guaranteed to put a smile on their face. Plus, it gives you the excuse to shop for beautiful stationary, and that is both a treat for you and a treat for the recipient!
Hopefully this list gives you a jumping off point for turning November into a whole month to celebrate thankfulness and appreciation. And why not take it a step further and keep up the trend into December and beyond? We need thankfulness in our lives year-round, and there’s no better time to start than right now.