30+ Reasons to Be Thankful This Thanksgiving

Not feeling the attitude of gratitude this year? Here's how to turn it around.

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Carbs have gotten a bad rap lately but thanks to bread, stuffing, mashed potatoes, yams, and pie, Thanksgiving is basically the High Carb Holiday. Take one day off of worrying about your waistline to be thankful for yummy and energizing carbs.

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Family during the holidays can be a lot of extra work and stress, as anyone who’s ever had to serve a dry turkey to a critical in-law knows. Yet they can also be a huge blessing. After all, what’s Thanksgiving dinner without Uncle Bill’s “magic” tricks or your mom’s signature pie? So even when they’re annoying, try to focus on all the things you love about your beautiful, wacky, funny, a little bit crazy but always loving clan.

These funny family photos will put a smile on your face!

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Crunchy, colourful, fragrant piles of leaves

Is there anything that says “fall” more than the changing foliage? The vibrant colours, the satisfying crunch underfoot, and the woodsy smell combine to delight all your senses. Plus, let’s be honest, there’s a much less fancy reason to love leaves: giant piles to jump in!

Here’s what autumn looks like across Canada.

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Whether it’s the soulful eyes of your pup (begging for turkey) or the tiny pink nose of your kitty (also begging for turkey, but in a much more sophisticated way than Fido), Thanksgiving is the perfect time to shower a little extra love on the critters who love you the most.

Check out these adorable pets across Canada.

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Crisp apples

Apples may be available in stores all year long, but there’s something special about fall apples with their fresh, crisp bite and tangy sweet juice. No wonder so many favourite Thanksgiving recipes rely on apples! Bonus points for going to an orchard and picking your own, allowing you to be grateful for the trees, soil, sun and farmers who do all the hard work for us.

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Flowers are generally thought of as a spring and summer treat, but there are a few hardy blooms that will continue to brighten your home and your spirit as the days get colder. Mums are a perennial (get it?) Thanksgiving favourite. Buy a pot for yourself or bring one as a hostess gift.

No fresh flowers handy? Lose yourself in this gallery of gorgeous Canadian flower photography.

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Advice columns

Thanksgiving can be a depressing time (it turns out “autumn anxiety” is a thing), especially if your life isn’t going quite like you’d hoped. But instead of despairing about your circumstances, take a few minutes and read an advice column. At the very least, reading about other people’s problems will make you more grateful for your own. You might be unemployed or single, but at least you’re not working for the ex you cruelly ghosted or in love with your twin, right? It’s all a matter of perspective.

If that doesn’t lighten your mood, these ridiculous Butterball help line calls should do the trick!

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This classic Thanksgiving totem and food doesn’t get a lot of love the rest of the year, but the humble turkey is a tasty source of filling protein—not to mention high levels of tryptophan, the chemical known for making you feel relaxed and sleepy. Also, you probably didn’t have to kill or pluck the poor bird yourself—one more blessing to count!

Don’t miss these Thanksgiving turkey tips from a professional chef!

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Candy corn

Sure, real corn is a staple grain that provides food to millions of people and animals. That’s great and all, but candy corn is way tastier, especially when you mix it with peanuts for that classic salty-sweet Thanksgiving table decoration/kid appetizer.

Psst—these make-at-home copycat recipes taste just like your favourite candy!

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Warm drink weather

Fall means cooler temps which, of course, means steamy mugs of deliciousness. See you later, smoothies! It’s time for pumpkin spice lattes, hot toddies, spiced ciders, mulled wines and hot chocolates. Wrap your hands around the cup, inhale the spicy aromas, and enjoy the feeling of getting warm from the inside out.

Here are 20 tasty hot chocolate recipes to try.

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Early evenings

September 22 may have been the official first day of fall, but it’s really not until Thanksgiving that you start to feel the longer nights and shorter days. Summer nights, with their barbecues and night games, may get all the glory (and country songs), but fall nights can be just as fun. Pop some popcorn, pull out a board game or puzzle, turn on a favourite movie, and enjoy the cozy feeling of being snuggled up together.

Check out the best two-player board games for a Thanksgiving game night.

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Your best friend

Friends are like family, but sometimes they’re even better than family, especially when they’re saving the day by bringing a non-burnt turkey or smuggling you a much-needed drink. Make sure to tell your friend how grateful you are for their friendship and how much better your life is because you have them.

Find out how to make new friends as a grown-up.

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Scarves and mittens

Staying warm is a need, but nothing says you can’t do it in style! Thanksgiving is the perfect time to debut your sleek gloves, warm scarves, cute hats, tall boots and smart coats—and be grateful for warm fingers and toes!

Winter wear still in storage? Here are some genius ways to trick your body into feeling warmer on a cold day.

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A cozy kitchen

For some people, even the thought of cooking is tedious, but for many people spending a day puttering around the kitchen, chatting with family, and making favourite recipes is a wonderful way to enjoy a cool day indoors. There’s nothing like the pride of seeing perfectly browned rolls come out of the oven that you made yourself.

Try your hand at these easy bread recipes.

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Peace and safety

The world is a tumultuous place right now, full of nightmare scenarios. But if you’re reading this, you’re likely in a place of relative safety and peace—be grateful for your ability to surf the Internet without fear or censorship. Then make sure you find a way to help others who aren’t so blessed.

Here’s how to cope when the world seems like a horrible place.

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Pumpkin pie is really only the beginning when it comes to delicious Thanksgiving desserts. Apple rhubarb, dutch apple, French silk, coconut creme, and caramel are all excellent variations on seasonal pies.

Here are 10 fall pie recipes you’ll want to bake all season long.

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Electricity and plumbing

Remembering what our ancestors had to endure just to stay alive is apt to make anyone grateful for modern conveniences. Just try and imagine what life would be like without tap water, indoor toilets and the Internet.

Find out what people used before toilet paper existed!

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Nothing caps off a wonderful Thanksgiving meal like falling into a deep slumber under a fluffy, warm comforter in a soft bed. Cool air, warm body, perfect night’s sleep—as long as the turkey doesn’t give you weird dreams, that is!

Here’s the scientific reason you sleep under blankets—even when it’s hot.

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Your health

No matter how many health problems you may have, one thing’s for certain: You’re alive! And that’s always something to be grateful for. Seriously though, most of us are more healthy than we are sick, and while it’s easier to focus on the aches and pains sometimes you just gotta be thankful for everything that’s still working as it should.

(Psst—these pain management strategies could help relieve some of those everyday aches!)

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Pumpkin patches

Admit it: Whoever decided that walking through a muddy field to pick an odd-shaped squash would be not only fun but something people will pay a lot of money to do, was kind of a genius. And it is fun! Finding the perfect gourd to decorate your Thanksgiving table or turn into other pumpkin crafts is great entertainment for adults and kids alike. These free pumpkin-carving stencils will come in handy!

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Smiles from a stranger

A smile from a stranger is a small thing, but it can change the trajectory of your entire day. Someone noticed you. Someone liked you enough to smile at you. It’s pretty amazing if you think about it. Now, pay it forward.

Here are more acts of kindness you can do in 30 seconds (or less)!

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Baby giggles

Thanksgiving is a time for families, and while having so many different personalities in one place can be challenging, there’s always an upside: the laughter of babies and toddlers. It’s genuine, comes straight from the gut, and happens at the best times (like when Grandpa accidentally belches). Enjoy every tinkling note!

You can always trigger the giggles yourself with these funny jokes to make anyone laugh.

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There are people who love cooking, and then there are people who love to appreciate other people cooking—and there’s no shame in that! Many restaurants and patios are packed on Thanksgiving, with people who still want to enjoy a special meal but would rather not deal with all the pressure and dishes of hosting at home. Let’s all take a minute to be grateful for the servers, hosts, managers, cooks, chefs, bussers, and other workers who make it all possible—particularly during the pandemic.

Find out how to make store-bought stuffing mix taste homemade.

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Whether your mother is in the next room, the next town, the next country, or the next life, Thanksgiving traditions can be powerful reminders of the good times you shared together and how very much she loves you, no matter how far away.

Don’t miss this roundup of heartwarming quotes about moms.

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Don’t forget your papa! From organizing the neighbourhood football game to re-raking the leaf pile for you to jump in over and over, dads hold a special place on Thanksgiving too.

These bad dad jokes are sure to make him smile!

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Corn mazes

It’s a food! It’s a game! It’s a corn maze! OK, so the number one rule of doing a corn maze is to not eat the corn, but it’s still a pretty ingenious multi-purpose invention. Get your exercise before the big meal by walking (and getting lost) in one of these clever life-sized mazes. Or take it next-level and do a spooky incarnation.

Stuck inside? See if you can make it through the world’s hardest maze.

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Bring the spicy, earthy smell of fall indoors with an easy stove top potpourri recipe: Put orange peels, cinnamon sticks, cloves, vanilla and nutmeg in a small pot. Cover with water and heat on low, adding water as necessary. You’ll enjoy the simple fragrance all day.

Here are more genius hacks to make everything in your home smell amazing.

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What better way to spend those sleepy post-feast hours than curled up in your favourite chair with a good book?

Looking for your next read? Check out the latest picks from the Reader’s Digest Book Club.

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Napping is a Thanksgiving tradition, just as much as turkey. And indulging in this one is just as good for you as it feels.

Here’s more advice on how to relax (without spending a cent).

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Pumpkin spice everything

Pumpkin spice lattes are just the beginning of the fun you can have with this spice blend of allspice, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves. From cereal to doughnuts to ravioli, you can inject this festive flavour into almost any type of food—sweet or savory. And don’t stop with food—indulge in pumpkin spice body wash, hand soap, candles and air fresheners.

Here are 10 tasty ways to get your pumpkin spice fix this fall.

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Nature walks in the forest

Nature is quite the artist, and there’s no better way to admire her handiwork than by watching the colours change on the trees. A nature walk or drive to see the beautiful changing fall foliage is the perfect compliment to a Thanksgiving dinner.

Check out the best places to see fall colours in Canada.

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Facetime and Skype

Technology brings us so many gifts, but perhaps none are as meaningful as the ability to see our loved ones even when they can’t physically be with us. Thankfully, we have Zoom, Skype, and other apps to bring in far-off grandparents, cousins, children and friends.

Here’s how Thanksgiving is celebrated around the world.

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The roof over your head

Shelter is one of humankind’s most primary needs, but it’s so basic that unless you don’t have it, you may forget to be grateful for it. This year, take a look upward and be grateful for the roof that offers you warmth and protection—and find a way to make sure everyone who needs one finds a roof too.

These funny Thanksgiving quotes can help brighten your spirits.

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Whether you’re in the kitchen, on the couch, or doing chores around the house, Thanksgiving is the perfect day to binge-watch a favourite show or get caught up on shows you might have missed, guilt free.

Here are the best movies on Netflix Canada right now.

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Emergency service personnel

You know who never gets a day off, even on Thanksgiving? Firefighters, police, first responders, EMTs, doctors, nurses, and many other emergency service workers. Show them your gratitude for their service 365 days a year by dropping by a little treat or making a donation to their local cause.

Here, 30 Canadians answer: “What are you thankful for?

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Thanksgiving tears are often of the poignant variety—saying goodbye to loved ones and remembering past holidays—and those tears serve an important purpose. We only cry when something is important to us, so those tears are a reminder of how much we love and are loved.

These real life acts of kindness will warm your heart.

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That’s right, we just told you to be thankful for being thankful. But it’s true, being grateful has myriad physical and psychological benefits. Making your own Thankful-on-Thanksgiving list can ward off depression, lower blood pressure, ameliorate anxiety, and even increase lifespan. You’re welcome.

Want to make every day Thanksgiving Day? Here’s practical advice on how to become a more thankful person year-round.

Reader's Digest
Originally Published on Reader's Digest