“Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues,but the parent of all the others.”
Marcus Tullius Cicero (106–43 BCE), philosopher and theorist
Sharing and Thanksgiving
An “attitude of gratitude” helps everyone to face the world in a positive and upbeat way, so it is no surprise that feelings of goodwill expand even farther when everyone gathers to celebrate and appreciate at the same time. Taking the time to be consciously aware of all that matters and to give thanks to those we love and care for—and even to those we find more challenging—is a great way to build bridges, reach joint understanding, and bring families and communities together. Thanksgiving helps us to move beyond petty differences and remember the wonder of life and what really matters to us all.
As every American will know, the Thanksgiving feast dates back to November 1621, when the newly arrived Pilgrims shared simple food with the local Wampanoag tribe. In Canada, Thanksgiving started even earlier, in 1578. It is credited to the English explorer Martin Frobisher, who with his men gave thanks for their safe return to harbor after their expedition through the country’s icy northern wastes to find the great Northwest Passage. Since those early days, the annual tradition of sharing turkey, pumpkin pie, and other holiday treats has reunited families and friends across the whole continent.
Pumpkin Pie is made for sharing
Pumpkin pie is synonymous with beautiful Fall colors and seasonal hospitality. Every family has its own preferred recipe, and there is nothing more welcoming than being offered a thick slice of pie on a chilly October day.
1 medium pumpkin, halved and seeds removed
2 eggs, plus an extra egg yolk
1⁄2 cup/170g/6oz soft brown sugar
1 heaped cup/115g/4oz superfine (caster) sugar
1⁄2 tsp salt
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1⁄4 tsp each ground nutmeg and ground cloves
1⁄4 tsp ground cardamom (optional)
grated zest of half a lemon
11⁄2 cups/12 fl oz heavy (double) cream (or a 12oz can unsweetened condensed milk)
1 sweet shortcrust ready-made pastry shell, 9 in. (23 cm) in diameter
- Preheat the oven to 350°F/180°C/Gas 4.
- First make the pumpkin purée: line a baking sheet with greaseproof paper or baking parchment. Place the pumpkin halves cut side down on the sheet and bake for 1–11⁄2 hours, until the flesh is soft and can be easily pierced. Remove from the oven and allow to cool before scooping out the pulp. (For extra-smooth purée, push through a strainer/sieve before use.) Turn the oven up to 425°F/220°C/Gas 7.
- Beat the eggs and egg yolk in a large bowl. Mix in the sugars, salt, spices, and lemon zest.
- Add the pumpkin purée (making sure it is completely cool). Stir in the cream, and beat everything together until well mixed.
- Pour the filling into the pastry shell, making sure it is spread nice and thickly (to allow for shrinkage as it cooks).
- Bake for 15 minutes, then lower the temperature to 350°F/180°C/ Gas 4 and bake for 45–55 minutes more.
- To check whether the pie is ready, insert a skewer into the center of the filling. If it comes out clean, the pie is cooked. If not, bake for a few more minutes before testing again.
- Leave the pie to cool and relax on a wire rack, then cut into slices. For extra decadence, serve with whipped cream, ice cream, or yogurt.
“Let us be thankful to people who make us happy; they are the gardeners who make us blossom.”
Marcel Proust (1871–1922), writer
Gratitude in action - Show gratitude for what you’ve received by collecting memories
Create a personal pot of gratitude with ideas for ways to say thank you. This can be a real jar or a metaphorical jar, depending on whether you want a physical reminder or whether the act of contemplating the jar is enough to focus your thoughts. The gratitude jar is a place where you can keep the names of the people you feel grateful toward and want to spend time with or write to or thank, as well as ideas and suggestions for expressions of thankfulness. The beauty of the gratitude jar is that the positivity is automatically generated as you remove ideas randomly to take action, and put new ones back in, in place of the old, for use in the future.
- Random gratitude method:
Add names of those you wish to thank on pieces of paper of one color, and ways to say thank you on pieces of paper of another color.
Choose two pieces of paper, one of each color, to marry up ideas for giving. This approach needs to be treated as a starting point for ideas and as a bit of fun. Choosing “Great Aunt Millie” and “Sky-dive treat” may not be the ideal combination!
- Focused gratitude method:
The pot is the ideal place to turn all your guilty “shoulds” into positive action—write down specific ideas and choose one at random every so often.
This extract has been taken from The Power of Gratitude by Lois Blyth.