Thanksgiving has always been an important holiday to me and my family. Though there are many reasons to celebrate, the fourth Thursday in November brings us around the table to share a turkey, trimmings, homemade pies, and lively conversations. Discussions can range from recent events to personal stories to our goals for the New Year. If you’re getting together in a group to celebrate this Thanksgiving, here are few ideas (and a fun challenge) to jumpstart the conversation about giving and gratitude in 2022.
The American Thanksgiving holiday was born in the 1500s to celebrate the fall harvests, but most Americans learn in grammar school that it began in 1621 when the Mayflower pilgrims sat down for a three-day meal with the Wampanoag. In 1863, amid raging battles of the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln declared a national Thanksgiving Day be held each November. For many people, the day marks a time to be grateful and give thanks for friends, family, health, and homes.
Gratitude comes from the Latin word gratus, which means pleasing. This makes sense because gratefulness reflects our appreciation for kindness, gifts, help, favors, and other good fortunes that come our way. Our pause to reflect and express gratitude has therapeutic benefits as well. According to Martin Seligman, who introduced a field of psychology that he termed positive psychology in 1998, expressing gratitude can give us a psychological lift:
“When their week’s assignment was to write and personally deliver a letter of gratitude to someone who had never been properly thanked for his or her kindness, participants immediately exhibited a huge increase in happiness scores.”1
So, this Thanksgiving, keep in mind that gifting and gratitude come full circle: While it’s pleasing to receive gifts and acts of kindness, the act of showing gratitude and gratefulness can make us happier as well.
Americans doled out nearly $500 billion to charities in 2021.2 While acts of giving and kindness can be emotionally rewarding for both the giver and receiver, they can have tax benefits too. Here are a few ideas to consider if you’re in a giving mood this holiday season:
As financial advisors, we often help clients think through how to make an impact in their communities and do meaningful gifting to their families or favorite charities. Planning can be in the present and/or drafted into estate plans for the future. Talk to your financial advisor for more information on getting started.
We rack our brains trying to choose the perfect gift for our family members, but one of the greatest gifts you can give is something you may have overlooked.
When a major life insurance company surveyed a group of boomers, 86% agreed that the greatest gifts they ever received involved family mementos and personal stories.⁴ The most valued treasures are often our stories and memories; they are the keys to keeping the family history alive.
Unless someone in the family has taken the time to write down personal accounts of the funny, meaningful, or even tragic events in their lives, those stories can simply vanish as aging relatives pass on.
Here are some suggestions to keep the memories alive:
Those little keepsake mementos with sentimental value can be equally meaningful. Great grandma keeps a tattered teddy bear on her bed. Granddad had given it to her before heading off to war. What happens to the teddy bear when she is gone? What about that coin collection, old record albums, wedding ring, or the medals Gramps earned for bravery on the battlefield?
Sharing stories, memories, and mementos can be a new way to celebrate family gatherings, especially at Thanksgiving when we focus on blessings, gratitude, and family connections.
Creating friendly family competition can be another way to encourage giving. Here’s how to participate in The Mercer Advisors Family Giving Challenge:
Whether or not you participate in the challenge, we want to express our sincere gratitude for the blessings we all enjoy during this Thanksgiving holiday. We are especially grateful for the relationships we share with our clients. Thank you for reading and being part of our Mercer Advisors family.