Photo 2015-11-27, 8 45 09 AMAs an American living in Canada, I have the privilege of celebrating Thanksgiving day twice (and having a wonderful reason to eat a big turkey meal with loved ones in October and November)!

This year, I realized that I want to practice Thanksgiving not just on those days set aside and given to us off of work, but always. Especially with Christmas coming up.

This realization came mainly as I was planning my Christmas present list. I LOVE giving gifts (probably one of my main love languages) and last year Fred and I spent way more than originally planned. Sure, we budgeted for it and paid cash for everything, but we definitely wished we had planned better. Giving gifts is wonderful, but there has to be a better way to appreciate those we love in our lives rather than overspending and under-planning, right?

I was also thinking about what I wanted to buy with my own Christmas money that I would likely receive and started feeling frustrated. Instead of thinking how nice it would be to have a little money to spend on something for myself, I started thinking about how it wouldn’t be enough to buy everything that I wanted.

TIME OUT.

I couldn’t believe I had slipped into such a greedy place. It shocked me enough that I knew that I needed to pause and reflect. I like to fancy myself very content, frugal, and appreciative. However, as a person living in a North American context, it’s so easy to get caught up in being focused on material things. Especially as Christmas approaches, greediness is not only culturally okay, but even encouraged (I write this on Black Friday – a prime example of this).

I realized that I often forget about being thankful. Thankfulness is the best cure for greediness in my experience – and this Christmas season, here is how I am going to practice the art of giving thanks to combat greediness:

1. Giving away what I don’t need or use. 

This has been my new favourite thing lately. I’ve been going through clothes, drawers and closets to find things that I have just kept because I forgot about them or wanted to keep them “just in case.”

So far I’ve given away a few boxes of things that I definitely don’t need and have freed up some valuable space in our conservative apartment. It feels amazing to get rid of things – you should give it a try!

2. Appreciating what I have.

Once you get remove the things that you don’t need from your home, you’re left with the things that you actually use and you can appreciate them more. I find that if I think about using the things that I actually have rather than focusing on what I don’t have, I am more thankful.

Photo 2015-11-27, 8 57 00 AM3. Celebrating progress.

As Fred and I continue to pay off our debt  (with just $21,726 left to pay out of over $95,000!) I am choosing to focus on what we have accomplished instead of being frustrated with what we still have left to pay off.

I shared on social media how we paid off my U.S. student loan last month and never wrote a full blog to commemorate it. Today I share that I am thankful that we have paid off this $22,596.75 loan in just under 5 years. (This would be over $30,200 CAD with the current exchange rate.)

This is a huge accomplishment and instead of thinking that we still have one loan left to go, I need to remember we have paid 5 out of our 6 loans. For that, I am thankful.

4. Making my Christmas gifts.

Instead of just buying something and checking something off a list, I am making the majority of our Christmas gifts this year. It reminds me how thankful I am for the person I am giving it to, rather than just giving them something that I “picked up.”  (Bonus budget tip: This is also a great way to save money as homemade gifts usually cost less if done right!)

Fred and I affectionately call these my “Christmas crafts” (inspired by Dave Ramsey telling people to “make Christmas a craft” when paying off debt.) In addition to saving money, I am actually having so much fun and am more thankful for people as I spent more time making something for them!

5. Focusing on being thankful instead of on what I don’t have. 

This is the main thing that keeps me thankful. Sometimes I look around my house and say out loud “I am thankful for my chair and couches that I didn’t pay for” or “I am thankful that I have a nice place to live.” (Side note: Our lovely ’70s couch featured in this blog’s title picture. It just seemed right.)

Just acknowledging out loud that you are thankful for something really shifts something in your heart and mind and I really believe it can change the way we view our circumstances. Feel free to give it a try today!

How do you practice thankfulness? Leave a comment below if you’d like to share with me. :)