50 Reasons to Be Thankful This Thanksgiving
Not feeling the attitude of gratitude this year? Here’s how to turn it around.
Carbs have gotten a bad rap lately but thanks to bread, stuffing, mashed potatoes, yams, and pie, Thanksgiving is basically the High Carb Holiday. So take one day off of worrying about your waistline to be thankful for yummy and energizing carbs. And you don’t have to chuck health totally out the window. Try these 11 Thanksgiving classics made with healthy whole foods.
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Family during the holidays can be a lot of extra work and stress, as anyone who’s ever had to serve a dry turkey to a critical in-law knows. Yet they can also be a huge blessing. After all, what’s Thanksgiving dinner without Uncle Bill’s “magic” tricks or your mom’s signature pie? So even when they’re annoying, try to focus on all the things you love about your beautiful, wacky, funny, a little bit crazy but always loving clan. In the meantime, here are some family jokes to lighten the mood.
Thanksgiving stand-up comedy
If you just can’t take another minute of holiday cheer, find solace in the collective misery of everyone else by watching some of the brilliant (and free!) comedy routines poking fun at food, family, and the traditions we love to hate. Start with Jim Gaffigan’s take on Thanksgiving—”Thank goodness we have a holiday set aside for being grateful, we’d sure hate to have to do that every day!”—and work your way through YouTube’s endless holiday comedy library.
Crunchy, colorful, fragrant piles of leaves
Is there anything that says “fall” more than the changing foliage? The vibrant colors, the satisfying crunch underfoot, and the woodsy smell combine to delight all your senses. Plus, let’s be honest, there’s a much less fancy reason to love leaves: giant piles to jump in! Check out these stunning fall scenes across the country.
Whether it’s the soulful eyes of your pup (begging for turkey) or the tiny pink nose of your kitty (also begging for turkey, but in a much more sophisticated way than Fido), Thanksgiving is the perfect time to shower a little extra love on the critters who love you the most. Another reason to be thankful? The many health benefits of owning a pet.
Apples may be available in stores all year long, but there’s something special about fall apples with their fresh, crisp bite and tangy sweet juice. No wonder so many favorite Thanksgiving recipes rely on apples! Bonus points for going to an orchard and picking your own, allowing you to be grateful for the trees, soil, sun, and farmers who do all the hard work for us.
That holiday helping spirit
The “holiday spirit” is a real thing, inspiring people to reach out to others throughout November and December. We promise you: There’s nothing that will make you more grateful for what you have than sharing some of it with someone who has less. Take the opportunity this Thanksgiving to invite a lonely senior, a recent refugee, or a new neighbor over to enjoy your turkey. Or try one of these 9 creative ways to volunteer and really make a difference.
New pumpkin recipes
From sweet treats to savory soups and everything in between, pumpkins are a remarkably versatile veggie! Show your gratitude for the orange squash by whipping up a classic pumpkin pie or try something new, like pumpkin pickles. To start, try these 20 mouthwatering pumpkin recipes.
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Flowers are generally thought of as a spring and summer treat, but there are a few hardy blooms that will continue to brighten your home and your spirit as the days get colder. Mums are a perennial (get it?) Thanksgiving favorite. Buy a pot for yourself or bring one as a hostess gift. Here are more elegant gifts for your host.
Thanksgiving can be a depressing time, especially if your life isn’t going quite like you’d hoped. But instead of despairing about your circumstances, take a few minutes and read an advice column. At the very least, reading about other people’s problems will make you more grateful for your own. You might be unemployed or single, but at least you’re not working for the ex you cruelly ghosted or in love with your twin, right?
This classic Thanksgiving totem and food doesn’t get a lot of love the rest of the year, but the humble turkey is a tasty source of filling protein—not to mention high levels of tryptophan, the chemical known for making you feel relaxed and sleepy. Also, you probably didn’t have to kill or pluck the poor bird yourself—one more blessing to count!
Tiny hand turkeys
On the other hand (ha!), let’s be thankful for the quintessential Thanksgiving craft: the tiny hand turkey. These sweet paper cutouts will remind you how little and innocent children are, and may even remind you of your own days when the world was magical, Santa was real, and hands could be birds. Check out these fun Thanksgiving crafts for kids.
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Thanksgiving is prime time for football. Whether you’re watching a game on TV or playing a little touch-football at the park with friends, the sport has a way of bringing people together. If nothing else, it’s something to talk about at the dinner table rather than Aunt Bertha’s drinking problem. Not a fan of watching the game? Perhaps you’d prefer one of the top 10 football movies.
Sure, real corn is a staple grain that provides food to millions of people and animals. That’s great and all, but candy corn is way tastier, especially when you mix it with peanuts for that classic salty-sweet Thanksgiving table decoration/kid appetizer.
Warm drink weather
Fall means cooler temps which, of course, means steamy mugs of deliciousness. See you later, smoothies! It’s time for pumpkin spice lattes, hot toddies, spiced ciders, mulled wines, and hot chocolates. Wrap your hands around the cup, inhale the spicy aromas, and enjoy the feeling of getting warm from the inside out. Make sure you’re using our best hot chocolate hacks to get the most out of your drink.
Band geeks (aka musical geniuses) have been training for the big Thanksgiving parade all year. Appreciate the pomp and artistry of a full band by watching a parade on TV or lining up to cheer for your local high school kids. Bonus: You’ll get the incredible health benefits of listening to live music.
Children’s gratitude lists
Ask an adult what they’re grateful for, and they’ll say something sensible like “a warm house” or “family.” Ask a kid, and you never know what answer you’ll get! These are the ridiculous things we all believed as kids.
September 21 may be the official first day of fall, but it’s really not until Thanksgiving that you start to feel the longer nights and shorter days. Summer nights, with their barbecues and night games, may get all the glory (and country songs), but fall nights can be just as fun. Pop some popcorn, pull out a board game or puzzle, turn on a favorite movie, and enjoy the cozy feeling of being snuggled up together. (This is the secret to amazing homemade popcorn.)
Your best friend
Friends are like family, but sometimes they’re even better than family, especially when they’re saving the day by bringing a non-burnt turkey or smuggling you a much-needed drink. Make sure to tell your friend how grateful you are for their friendship and how much better your life is because you have them. This is the scientific reason why friends can impact your mood.
Scarves and mittens
Staying warm is a need, but nothing says you can’t do it in style! Thanksgiving is the perfect time to debut your sleek gloves, warm scarves, cute hats, tall boots and smart coats—and be grateful for warm fingers and toes! For even more fashion, check out these 51 insider tips personal stylists won’t tell you for free.
A cozy kitchen
For some people, even the thought of cooking is tedious, but for many people spending a day puttering around the kitchen, chatting with family, and making favorite recipes is a wonderful way to enjoy a cool day indoors. There’s nothing like the pride of seeing perfectly browned rolls come out of the oven that you made yourself. (Hint: We recommend the Pioneer Woman’s hot cross buns recipe!)
The first snow
For much of the country, the first dusting of snow comes around Thanksgiving, reminding you that winter is right around the corner. That first chill and snowfall hints at sledding, snowmen, hot chocolate, and holiday parties. Bonus: No more lawn mowing! (Feel free to be jealous Louisiana, Florida, Arizona, and the rest of the South!) And don’t miss these mind-blowing facts about snow.
Peace and safety
The world is a tumultuous place right now, full of nightmare scenarios. But if you’re reading this, you’re likely in a place of relative safety and peace—be grateful for your ability to surf the Internet without fear or censorship. Then make sure you find a way to help others who aren’t so blessed. If the news is really upsetting you, use these 11 tricks from therapists to calm your anxiety.
Pumpkin pie is really only the beginning when it comes to delicious Thanksgiving desserts. Apple rhubarb, dutch apple, French silk, coconut creme, and caramel are all excellent variations on seasonal pies. (Start them all with our easy pie crust recipe.) One of each, please!
Electricity and plumbing
Remembering what our ancestors had to endure just to stay alive is apt to make anyone grateful for modern conveniences. Just try and imagine what life would be like without tap water, indoor toilets, and the Internet. These are the things that were way harder back in the day.
Nothing caps off a wonderful Thanksgiving meal like falling into a deep slumber under a fluffy, warm comforter in a soft bed. Cool air, warm body, perfect night’s sleep—as long as the turkey doesn’t give you weird dreams, that is! (Yes, turkey-induced dreaming is a real thing.) Here are 6 more ways to improve your sleeping experience.
No matter how many health problems you may have, one thing’s for certain: You’re alive! And that’s always something to be grateful for. Seriously though, most of us are more healthy than we are sick, and while it’s easier to focus on the aches and pains sometimes you just gotta be thankful for everything that’s still working as it should.
Admit it: Whoever decided that walking through a muddy field to pick an odd-shaped squash would be not only fun but something people will pay a lot of money to do, was kind of a genius. And it is fun! Finding the perfect gourd to decorate your Thanksgiving table or turn into other pumpkin crafts is great entertainment for adults and kids alike. (Don’t miss these unexpected ways to decorate with pumpkins.)
Smiles from a stranger
A smile from a stranger is a small thing, but it can change the trajectory of your entire day. Someone noticed you. Someone liked you enough to smile at you. It’s pretty amazing if you think about it. Now, pay it forward. For a little inspiration, read these 24 surprising stories of kindness from strangers.
Thanksgiving is a time for families, and while having so many different personalities in one place can be challenging, there’s always an upside: the laughter of babies and toddlers. It’s genuine, comes straight from the gut, and happens at the best times (like when Grandpa accidentally belches). Enjoy every tinkling note!
There are people who love cooking, and then there are people who love to appreciate other people cooking—and there’s no shame in that! Many restaurants are packed on Thanksgiving, with people who still want to enjoy a special meal but would rather not deal with all the pressure and dishes of hosting at home. Let’s all take a minute to be grateful for the servers, hosts, managers, cooks, chefs, bussers, and other workers who make it all possible.
Whether your mother is in the next room, the next town, the next country, or the next life, Thanksgiving traditions can be powerful reminders of the good times you shared together and how very much she loves you, no matter how far away. Psst… It’s not too late to give her one of our free, funny and sweet cards just for moms.
Don’t forget your papa! From organizing the neighborhood football game to re-raking the leaf pile for you to jump in over and over, dads hold a special place on Thanksgiving too. In the meantime, brush up on your dad wisdom with these 8 inspiring quotes from fathers.
It’s a food! It’s a game! It’s a corn maze! OK, so the number one rule of doing a corn maze is to not eat the corn, but it’s still a pretty ingenious multi-purpose invention. Get your exercise before the big meal by walking (and getting lost) in one of these clever life-sized mazes. Or take it next-level and do a spooky incarnation. These are the best corn mazes in America.
Are there any leftovers better than Thanksgiving leftovers? No, no there are not. Here are more Thanksgiving traditions to love.
Bring the spicy, earthy smell of fall indoors with our easy stove top potpourri recipe: Put orange peels, cinnamon sticks, cloves, vanilla, and nutmeg in a small pot. Cover with water and heat on low, adding water as necessary. You’ll enjoy the simple fragrance all day.
What better way to spend those sleepy post-feast hours than curled up in your favorite chair with a good book? This year, try something in the spirit of Thanksgiving like a holiday-themed mystery or a romance novel featuring pie. Or make it a family affair with the best children’s Thanksgiving books.
Napping is a Thanksgiving tradition, just as much as football and turkey. And indulging in this one is just as good for you as it feels. Check out these 10 science-backed health benefits of a midday nap.
Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade
This year will be the 93rd Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, making it a holiday tradition that stretches back for generations. Thankfully now you can watch it from the comfort of your own home on TV or the Internet, no crowds required. (Check out the surprising facts about the Macy’s Parade.)
Pumpkin spice everything
Pumpkin spice lattes are just the beginning of the fun you can have with this spice blend of allspice, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves. From cereal to doughnuts to ravioli, you can get this festive flavor in almost any type of food, sweet or savory. And don’t stop with food—indulge in pumpkin spice body wash, hand soap, candles, and air fresheners. Or try one of these 10 fun ways to get pumpkin spice without a latte.
Nature walks in the forest
Nature is quite the artist, and there’s no better way to admire her handiwork than by watching the colors change on the trees. A nature walk or drive to see the beautiful changing fall foliage is the perfect compliment to a Thanksgiving dinner. And one more thing to check off your fall bucket list.
If shopping were a sport, it might overtake football as the premier Thanksgiving event, thanks to Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals. Many a savvy shopper spends the latter part of the holiday planning out their purchases. The craziest shopping day of the year isn’t for everyone though, so feel free to enjoy the sales from the comfort of your computer screen. (Just make sure you’re not making these 10 Black Friday shopping mistakes.)
Facetime and Skype
Technology brings us so many gifts, but perhaps none are as meaningful as the ability to see our loved ones even when they can’t physically be with us. Thankfully, we have Facetime, Skype, and other apps to bring in far-off grandparents, cousins, children, and friends. Here are 9 ways to use technology to stay in touch with loved ones.
Cold, dry weather means dry, cracked lips and skin. Lip balm and lotion can be lifesavers this time of year. A small thing to be grateful for, perhaps, but an important one. Plus, you can buy lip balm in seasonal flavors like candy cane, caramel apple, and, of course, pumpkin spice. Here are the lip balm hacks you’ll wish you’d known all along.
The roof over your head
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Shelter is one of humankind’s most primary needs, but it’s so basic that unless you don’t have it, you may forget to be grateful for it. This year, take a look upward and be grateful for the roof that offers you warmth and protection—and find a way to make sure everyone who needs one finds a roof too. Not sure where to start? Check out how tiny donations to the Austin Disaster Relief fund bought a lot of roofs.
Whether you’re in the kitchen, on the couch, or doing chores around the house, Thanksgiving is the perfect day to binge-watch a favorite show or get caught up on shows you might have missed, guilt free.
Emergency service personnel
You know who never gets a day off, even on Thanksgiving? Firefighters, police, first responders, EMTs, doctors, nurses, and many other emergency service workers. Show them your gratitude for their service 365 days a year by dropping by a little treat or making a donation to their local cause.
Thanksgiving tears are often of the poignant variety—saying good-bye to loved ones and remembering past holidays—and those tears serve an important purpose. We only cry when something is important to us, so those tears are a reminder of how much we love and are loved. Having a good cry every once in a while is good for you, body and soul.
Slipper socks will keep your toes toasty through all the holiday festivities. They come in all kinds of styles, fun patterns, and soft fabrics. Plus they’re the perfect cover up for imperfect toenails. (Here’s why wearing socks to bed will basically change your life.)
That’s right, we just told you to be thankful for being thankful. But it’s true, being grateful has myriad physical and psychological benefits. Making your own Thankful-on-Thanksgiving list can ward off depression, lower blood pressure, ameliorate anxiety, and even increase lifespan. You’re welcome.