Whenever we host a large Thanksgiving meal, Mike and I host a short, but meaningful tradition. Just before Thanksgiving dinner is served, we turn off the video games, the music, the football, and the cell phones, and while dinner warms in the kitchen we gather together in a circle of gratitude.
We hand out a candle to each person present. Some candles are old nubs, some new tapers—we share whatever we have hanging around—each waxy stick is ready to be lit with the flame of love. Mike or I will begin the tradition by striking a match to the candle of someone with whom we are not close or who has perhaps a slightly tarnished family reputation. I may light the candle of a nephew and share that I am grateful for his youth and spunk and that he’s important to me because he reminds me to maintain a childlike heart. I might tell him that I desire to imitate this wonderful joy of his as my years roll on.
Next, he takes his lit candle, and with it, lights the candle of another family member, randomly chosen, expressing how he is grateful for her. We go across and around the circle until everyone has received this love and encouragement.
The years we have employed these circles of gratitude have gifted us each happy memories and a light of love to both hold dear in our hearts and to share out in the world as our light of gratitude grows brighter.