It's no secret that Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. Mostly for the food, but also for the sweet childhood memories from years ago, and the new traditions my husband and I are now creating with our girls. I remember when I was young, it seemed like our entire family came out of the woodwork for Thanksgiving, traveling from all over the country to one common spot — usually my grandmother's house — to eat too much, catch up on lost conversations, and enjoy each other's company.
I was always so, so thankful for Thanksgiving. It felt like a pause before entering a crazy holiday season — like a breath of crisp, Fall air.
But the gratitude didn't last long, as Christmas was only a few weeks away and I had lists to make and presents to dream about. As my extended family members traveled back to their respective homes, my thankfulness seemed to travel away with them as the anticipation of "more" and the routine of daily life set back in.
Obviously, for a child, there's nothing wrong with the anticipation of the holidays and excitement over receiving gifts. However, as I grew up and, slowly but surely, adopted a purposefully simpler lifestyle, the premise of celebrating thankfulness for only one day seemed a bit odd.
Sure, reminders are necessary, and it's great to have one day set aside for being thankful. But what about the other 364 days each year? Are they dedicated to working away, forgetting the many blessings we count on the fourth Thursday of each November?
To the minimalist, I would argue that thankfulness is a lifestyle, a daily choice. Not merely one day to celebrate.
Choosing to live with less, to consume responsibly, and to be intentional with the items you bring into your home in itself is a type of thanksgiving. We're taught the value of what we have, the value of the way we spend our time and money, and we choose to use it accordingly.
At it's core, a minimalist's lifestyle says "I know what is valuable to me, so I'm going to cut out the excess so I can pursue it with everything I have." It is intentionally searching your home and heart for discontent and weeding through why you have those feelings in the first place. It replaces the desire for more with contentment and (when needed) higher quality things.
Even though Thanksgiving lasts only a day (followed by, ironically, the day with the highest consumption of the entire year) fostering an "attitude of thanks" can last all year long if you let it. Here are three easy ways to make sure discontent doesn't sneak back in once your Turkey dinner wears off.
1. Shop With Purpose
If you do choose to shop on Black Friday (there's nothing wrong with waiting for the good deals!) choose stores that produce ethically, when you can. I know that many of the goods Black Friday shoppers look for are things like electronics, home goods, and Christmas gifts, but you'd be surprised at the amount of ethical retailers out there that offer mark downs as well. Obviously, these shopping habits should carry on into the rest of the year, but with Black Friday, and Cyber Monday leading the charge, remember that you, as the consumer, have the power.
For clothes, check out this list.
For info on shopping as ethically as possible for electronics, go here.
2. Don't Limit Your Thanks To Things
It's strange how on Thanksgiving, we remember just how much we really have, and seem to forget about it only a few hours later. But our thankfulness shouldn't just be limited to the amount of "stuff" in our homes. Are you healthy? Be thankful for that. Do you have a job that pays you money? Be thankful for that. Do you have a spouse or children or family or friends who care about you? Be thankful for that.
I'm preaching to myself as much as anyone else, because (as I mention often) I struggle with discontent probably more than the average person.
3. Keep The Rest of Your Holiday's Simple
As Christmas, Hanukkah, Boxing Day, New Year, National Maple Syrup day (it's December 17th. You're welcome.), all approach, remember to keep the same spirit alive that you cultivated on Thanksgiving. However you decide to do (or not do) presents, traditions, and all of the holiday hubbub, keeping it simple will usually translate into make it even more special.
Happy Thanksgiving-week, my friends.
I truly am thankful for each of you.