Truly Happy Holidays: 3 Easy Ways to Give Holiday Season Thank Yous

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When it comes to Thanksgiving, it can unfortunately be easy to forget the “thanks” portion of the holiday. Maybe you’ve integrated the tradition of naming something you’re thankful for as you go around the Thanksgiving table, but Thanksgiving can — and should — be about much more than that. As the holiday season begins, it’s time to start thinking of others: here are three easy ways to make these happy holidays with “thank you notes” — be they written or expressed another way — and embrace the true sentiment behind Thanksgiving and whatever other holidays you celebrate during the season.

1. Write A Letter

What easier way to embody the happy holidays spirit and say thank you than to write a true thank you note? But we’re not talking about the kind you buy in a stationery store; this sort of letter will take a bit more effort… and will be all the more rewarding!

If you’ve ever opened your mailbox and seen an envelope that didn’t come from your electric company or your bank, one with a hand-written address and a cleverly-selected stamp, you know how it feels to get real snail mail. Send a letter to someone — your parents, a teacher you had, a close friend — and let them know why you’re thankful to have them in your lives this holiday season. Try using handmade paper for an extra little something, both for the environment and for those you care about, who will see the effort you put into the thought. Spreading gratitude around can get a season that’s often unfortunately defined by stress off to an excellent start.

2. Give Back to the Community

Look for places near you to volunteer at the holidays. Volunteer opportunities come in many shapes and sizes. More traditional ideas, like working at a soup kitchen, remain possible, but you can get even more creative by tapping into your strengths.

Are you particularly good at basketball? Check out your local Boys and Girls Club of America. Great at knitting? See if knitting for charity could be an option for you. Giving of yourself is part of the idea, so choose something that means a lot to you, and try to channel that passion into your experience.

3. Donate Canned Goods

Donating canned goods or organizing a canned good drive is a great way to give back to those in need, particularly during the holiday season. Donate some traditional and healthy canned goods like solid-pack pumpkin, canned yams or canned vegetables to help families in need get not only the nutrition they’re missing out on but the feel-good aspects of a holiday meal together.

Local community centers can help with distribution of canned goods that have been collected for such families. If your community center allows it, consider including a handwritten note as well, so that the people receiving the holiday gift will be able to keep you in their thoughts and prayers as well: the human connection brings us all a bit closer on the holidays.

Image: Howard Kang

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Emily Monaco is a food and culture writer based in Paris. Her work has been featured in the Wall... More about Emily Monaco