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What If You’re Not Feeling All that Grateful this Thanksgiving?

What if you’re not feeling all that grateful this Thanksgiving? (It happens.)

I love holidays. I love Thanksgiving. In fact, Thanksgiving might be my favorite holiday, or at least it’s at the top of my list. Not sure what this says about me. Okay, yes, it says I like the food! And the togetherness and all the rest…Holidays are great, but holidays can also be stressful due to a lot of reasons.

Taking this even further, what if you’re not feeling all that grateful this Thanksgiving? 

Wait, you might be thinking.

Is that allowed?

Well, maybe you’ve just been diagnosed with cancer or some other challenging illness or situation. Maybe you’re sick from chemo or some other treatment. Maybe your loved one just died. Maybe you just lost your job and have no prospects for another. Maybe you just broke up with your significant other. Maybe you are all alone and don’t want to be. Maybe you are damn tired.

There are lots of reasons why life gets challenging, and challenges don’t magically disappear for the holidays.

So yes, sometimes life gets in the way of gratitude, too, even at Thanksgiving.

I will never forget a comment a reader once left on a blog post of mine. That reader had metastatic breast cancer and was dealing with a lot of issues. She also had young children. Her comment went something like this:

Every night when I tuck my kids in, we take turns telling each other something we’re thankful for. Some nights it’s really hard for me to come up with something, but we, I, always do.

I share this because yes, sometimes it is hard to feel grateful, although usually you can find something to express gratitude for.

But even if you can’t, that’s okay too.

So yes, it is allowed!

Because you are allowed to feel however you’re feeling.

It’s also okay because gratitude ebbs and flows. Gratitude takes effort and sometimes you just aren’t up to the doing part. But maybe the next day, or even the next hour, you will be. So there’s always that.

Gratitude takes practice which means you don’t have to be good at it all the time, does it not?

Sometimes it also takes patience with one’s self.

There’s a reason the phrase, practicing gratitude, exists.

As I’ve mentioned before, one of the best blogs around about practicing gratitude is one written by my online friend Lisa Valentine. It’s called, Habitual Gratitude.

Lisa’s blog is filled with wisdom, acceptance and humility, as well as practical tips for practicing gratitude. Lisa leads by example. If you have a few spare minutes, check it out.

So my message in this year’s Thanksgiving ramble is this:

At Thanksgiving and all through the upcoming holiday season, be kind to yourself. Be gentle with yourself. Be patient with yourself, even regarding expressing gratitude.

Be you. Be real.

Do your best when practicing gratitude (as well as when cooking, baking, shopping, cleaning, entertaining and all the rest of it) too.

As usual, it’s enough.

Really. It is.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Do you practice gratitude?

Do you sometimes find it hard to feel grateful?

What’s something you’re grateful for right now, this minute?

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Featured image above via Martin Cathrae via Flickr/Creative Commons.

What If You're Not Feeling So Grateful this Thanksgiving? #gratitude #holidays #thanksgiving #november

Lisa Valentine

Wednesday 14th of November 2018

Nancy, I appreciate reading this post and these comments again. In the last two years, many people I care about have faced some true challenges--cancer diagnoses, the death of a child by suicide, aging and advancing dementia--to name a few. I have faced unexpected difficulties as well. Your words are worth repeating. "Be you. Be real. It is enough." Living gratefully reminds me both that I am enough and Have enough. Thank you!


Friday 16th of November 2018

Lisa, Thank you for reading this one again. I'm sorry so many people you care about have been faced with such difficult challenges and that you have been as well. During such times, during any time, being allowed to be genuine is so important to well-being. And it's such a simple gift to offer others and ourselves, of course. I appreciate your insights. Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours, Lisa.

Beth L. Gainer

Tuesday 29th of November 2016

Hi Nancy,

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday too! Perhaps this is because it truly is an American holiday with no religious bent unless one wants it to be. This Thanksgiving was difficult because I knew that my cat Cosette was ill and would be put to sleep the next day. Grief intertwined with thankfulness. I was thankful she would no longer be suffering and thankful to have one more night cuddling my furry, purring pal. Right now, I still am thankful for her: she helped me through cancer treatment, divorce, and my bilateral mastectomy with reconstruction. She did her job on Earth, and I couldn't have asked for more. So, despite my grief, I am thankful. I think we can all ferret out some thankfulness every day, no matter how difficult it may be.


Wednesday 30th of November 2016

Beth, Oh gosh, TG must have been rough for you this year knowing the very next day you'd be putting Cosette to sleep. I am glad you have so many wonderful memories of her. It's incredible how our dear pets help us through trying times. And of course, they make the good times even better. They witness it all. When we have to say goodbye, it's so hard. I am so sorry, Beth. Thank you for sharing thoughts on gratitude. Hugs to you.

Doris Russell

Thursday 24th of November 2016

I am grateful that I didn't have the breast cancer return and didn't have to go through surgery or radiation but dread my next mammeogram and it returning.


Wednesday 30th of November 2016

Doris, Good luck with your next mammo. Thank you for reading and sharing.


Thursday 24th of November 2016

Happy Thanksgiving to you too, Nancy! I am feeling the same way you are at the moment. I know I am blessed with many things but I can't seem to be able to focus on the positive right now. There's too much going on around us, things that are hard to ignore, and most of it worries me (you listed some of those things). Doesn't mean I am ungrateful as we both know. We're realists and that's OK too.

I am grateful for you and for everyone who has supported me through the years, not just with cancer but with other life's hardships too. I am grateful for those who aren't related to me by blood and still love me unconditionally. I am especially thankful for my caregiver who is also my partner. Yes, I still feel lucky in many ways. I want everyone to be well though.

I hope your Thanksgiving is wonderful, Nancy. And thanks for the reminder to be kind to ourselves. xoxo


Wednesday 30th of November 2016

Rebecca, We are allowed to have varying emotions all that same time. My TG was quiet, but lovely. Hope yours was good too. Thank you for your continuing support, my fellow realist. xo

Slightly Exaggerated

Thursday 24th of November 2016

I needed to read this post today. Thank you.


Wednesday 30th of November 2016

Slightly Exaggerated, You're very welcome.

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