We had a simple wicker basket that looked like a chicken. You wrote what you were grateful for on a piece of paper and put it into the chicken.
You didn't sign your name. There was no fuss. We passed the chicken basket around the Thanksgiving table and everyone put a note in.
The Thanksgiving table wasn't a place for sucking up in our family. No time to score brownie points or make up for past wrongs.
Just a way to share sweet, simple affection for the someones and somethings in life that made sharp edges lose their bite.
And life always has enough sharp edges.
None of us expected life to be easy or perfect or always a box of doughnuts and a warm blanket. We did expect fair, though. And good. And decent. Maybe this was our way of remembering that the good and fair and decent lived right among us and sustained us during the cold days and the warm months and everything in between.
Then the basket was passed to my dad. He got to start the best part of Thanksgiving—better than turkey or stuffing or anything you could ever eat, even apple pie warm from the oven.
Take out a note of thanks and read it.
Everyone got to guess (aloud or silently) who wrote it.
You could reveal yourself, or not.
Didn't matter if you did.
Love is love, whether you stand up and put a name-badge on it or not.
We weren't a grandiose family. No need for false sentiment or anything close to florid emotion. We were Connecticut Yankees, and a hint of a patronizing attitude was enough to make us all run. Perhaps we were a bit gruff, sometimes slow on the hugs, but never slow on the love, and we had the wicker chicken basket.
It began at the head of the table on Thanksgiving Day. My dad picked out a piece of paper. He started reading.
"I'm grateful for…"
And our Thanksgiving tradition continued. It wasn't necessarily unique, but it was definitely ours, just like the love in that room.
Do you have a Thanksgiving tradition? Tell us. We'd love to know.
Lisbeth Darsh is the Director of Digital Marketing at 1440 Multiversity, as well as the author of seven books and the popular fitness/inspiration blog Words With Lisbeth.
Learn how to make gratitude part of your daily practice at Path of the Courageous Heart with Sharon Salzberg and Omid Safi, PhD January 31 - February 2, 2020.