5 Ways to Show Your Gratitude – No Check Book Required

It’s hard to believe but the 2009 holiday season has arrived. The evidence is everywhere. Dozens of catalogs & online coupons arrive tempting even the most prudent of shoppers. The smells of special holiday treats waft from bakeries near and far. And the sounds of jingling bells can be heard from Salvation Army donation bins scattered around the city.

I have a great deal to be thankful for; an amazing family, good job, comfortable home and welcoming neighbors & friends. It’s tempting to show my appreciation for these wonderful blessings through grand gestures – donations to favorite charities, over the top generous gifts, an extraordinary number of expensive dinners. While each of these pleasures are welcomed and encouraged for those blessed enough to afford them, none of them truly capture my gratitude.

When I sat down to consider alternatives I realized I was already showing my appreciation in many small ways. Here are five of my favorite.

1. Thank someone unexpected – This is the perfect time of year to pause and send a note thanking someone for going out of their way to do good. For example, my son recently celebrated a promotion in Cub Scouts. The ceremony was thoughtfully planned, the venue charming and the company enjoyable. But what made the event special was the legend of fire that one parent shared and the way the fire “magically” started at just the right time in the story. The next morning, I got up and wrote a short but sincere email thanking that parent for making our night special.

2. Donate your time – Donating your time comes in all shapes and sizes. You can sign up for regular volunteer hours at your local food pantry, you could wrap gifts for Toys for Tots, or cheer up Children at a local hospital. But don’t forget the many ways you can help closer to home. You can bring over a warm, home cooked meal to a neighbor that got home late from work. Or help your brother who, say it isn’t so, simply doesn’t know what to get his girlfriend for Christmas pick out the perfect gift.

3. Say yes to someone special – The next time your children ask you to play Monopoly, or your overly talkative elderly neighbor asks you over for games night, forget the three hours of errands you could be running instead. Put down the keyboard on your next Blog post and break out the dice. You might be surprised how much fun you have.

4. Smile – Whether you are in line at the grocery store behind two dozen other shoppers, or your mail carrier just delivered three pounds of unsolicited junk mail – smile and wish someone a happy day. It’s an instant pick me up for you and the recipient.

5. Find a long lost friend – Technologies such as Facebook & Twitter make this easier than ever. Take a stroll down memory lane. Reach out to an old friend and remind them why they have a special place in your heart. Or look up an old colleague in LinkedIn and thank them for something they taught you long ago.

What other ways can we show our gratitude?