Cultivating an Attitude of Gratitude

How do you show gratitude? Saint Ambrose says, “No duty is more urgent than that of returning thanks.” During this upcoming Thanksgiving holiday, we are reminded to give thanks for the blessings in our lives, yet it’s a practice we should keep at the forefront all year.

Lisa Hendey, author and founder and editor at, has some ideas for how we can give thanks during the holiday and all year. Many families begin their Thanksgiving meals with a prayer and go around the table to share what they are thankful for. Having a family tradition of sharing our gratitude on Thanksgiving “really speaks legions to our children about what the priority is. That the priority is not watching football, or whatever the stuffing recipe is, or getting to the pie.” It shows kids the reason that we gather and give thanks and travel long distances to visit family for Thanksgiving.

If you’re hosting this year, that’s also a great way to cultivate gratitude. Make what might seem to be mundane tasks into a fun and prayerful experience!

“Turn the exercise of getting ready for the holiday into an exercise of gratitude. For moms, this means a few extra steps, but I recommend that we involve our children in the preparation for the holiday. Sit down and make a list of all the little things that you have to do to be ready—things like putting out the linens or folding the napkins. But as we do these tasks, it’s a great time to pray for the people who will be coming around our table and praying in gratitude for them, for their safe travels,” says Hendey. “It might be special for the kids to write a little thank you note to each of the guests, something that could sit at their [table setting], a hand-drawn picture or note.”

Hendey says her family tries to really focus on Thanksgiving and not look at it as ‘Black Friday Eve’, in order to create distance from the consumerism that has crept into this family holiday. As we give thanks for what we have, we want to teach our kids to be grateful for the gifts they already have and not to be focusing on their wish list of Christmas gifts. Making a donation to a local food pantry or other organization during this time also drives home the message that there are those who are not as fortunate in having their physical needs met.

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Lindsey is a wife, mother, and contributing author at Relevant Radio. She holds a degree in Journalism and Advertising from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Lindsey enjoys writing, baking, and liturgical living with her young family.