Monday, November 22, 2010

The ThanksGiving List

Over a decade ago I started my favorite tradition ever: The ThanksGiving List. It is a list of my closest friends and why I am thankful for them that year. It's specific and heartfelt and I work on it the weekend before Thanksgiving (or earlier) and it is the best thing I do all year.

On the morning of Thanksgiving I wake up early, make two Pepperidge Farm cherry turnovers, and begin my calls around 9ish. I have until noon until I need to start getting ready to go to my family's dinner. After years of cultivating what I now think of as an art form, I can get most all of the calls in within this time frame.

Working off my notes I take a moment to get present with my gratitude and then I call my friend Ann (the list is alphabetical) and begin the thanking. It is designed to be a quick call, there are no pleasantries or small talk, it starts: Are you ready? Ok, Ann this is why I am thankful for you this year....

I rarely allow them to thank me back (that is not the point of the call, then it would be me just fishing for compliments). It is all about the giving, the thanking.

This is such a big deal with my friends that they often pick up the phone on the first ring, and have been known to start calling early in the month to make sure they are still on the list. It is not a given. If I have not been in touch with someone all year and I am not feeling it, they are off the list.

Pure gratitude and thankfulness is rare and this ritual has made Thanksgiving by-far my favorite holiday of the year. It makes me feel so blessed to make these calls and I know from the silence, the laughter, and sometimes the tears, how much it means to those receiving them.

Do yourself a favor and make a list, and if not on Thanksgiving pick one day a year to call up and thank the people that make your life so wonderful. I promise... you'll be thanking me for it!

UPDATE for 2011: I've begun some thank you tweets & emails to people I appreciate at work and in the social space I play in. These are quick little thank you's but keep in mind there is no bad time or way to thank someone. Get Thanking Today!

UPDATE for 2012: My pal Amy Spencer wrote a blog post about how much she liked The Thanksgiving List and then she included it in her new book Bright Side Up. Check it out on pages 137-138.

note: artwork blatantly lifted with thanks to Peanuts and creator Charles Schulz.


Linda York Leaming said...

This is a wonderful idea!

Unknown said...

As someone whose name begins with a "V" I am usually last (but not least, I hope) on Joy's list. What a gift to get that call! I've adapted it myself and began calling cousins and other folks I don't get to connect with that much throughout the year... it's a great way to say "I'm thinking of you and I love you" even if we don't talk very often.

Thanks, Joy, for spreading the joy!