IFYC’s Guide to Gratitude this Holiday Season

Let us be grateful to the people who make us happy; they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.” - Marcel Proust, French novelist  

This holiday season, people across the nation are going above and beyond to make sacrifices, and change traditions, to ensure that everyone around them is safe. To them, and to you, we want to say: thank you, we are all deeply grateful.  

Though the holidays will look and feel different than years before, we know that gratitude and appreciation will still enliven the spirit of this festive season. We reached out to our IFYC network to learn how they were staying in an attitude for gratitude this season, and we are excited to share a list of wonderful resources people are reading, watching, and listening to: 

  1. Ready for More Gratitude -- A sermon from Pastor Jeanne Stevens on how practicing gratitude helps us see the better and bigger picture – and to see the current moment, however challenging it might be, as a gift.  
  2. Ted Lasso -- An empathetic and comedic American sitcom that follows a small-time football coach, Ted Lasso, who is hired to coach a professional soccer team in England, despite having no experience coaching soccer.  
  3. About Time -- Streaming on Netflix, this movie is a phenomenal, heartwarming reminder to be grateful for the life we've been given.  
  4. TedX Talk by Shawn Achor -- An inspiring talk about the power of positive psychology – and gratitude in particular – to produce happiness. 
  5. City so Real -- Academy Award ®-nominated filmmaker Steve James’ fascinating and complex portrait of contemporary Chicago delivers a deep, multifaceted look into the soul of a quintessentially American city, set against the backdrop of its history-making 2019 mayoral election, and the tumultuous 2020 summer of COVID-19 and social upheaval following the death of George Floyd.
  6. Haudenosaunee Thanksgiving Address -- This video, filmed on location at the Onondaga Nation School in Onondaga Nation, focuses on the purpose and uses of the Haudenosaunee Thanksgiving Address. Representatives from the Onondaga Nation talk about the history of the Address and how the Address changes depending on who is saying it. 

  1. Leading with Gratitude: Eight Leadership Practices for Extraordinary Business Results -- The influential New York Times bestselling authors—the “apostles of appreciation” Chester Elton and Adrian Gostick—provide managers and executives with easy ways to add more gratitude to the everyday work environment to help bolster moral, efficiency, and profitability. 

  2. Jesus and the Disinherited, Howard Thurman -- In this classic theological treatise, the acclaimed theologian and religious leader Howard Thurman (1900-1981) demonstrates how the gospel may be read as a manual of resistance for the poor and disenfranchised. 

  3. The Bible: 1 Corinthians 13 – An excerpt: “If I speak in the tongues [a] of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.” 

  4. A Time to Build -- From family and community to congress and the campus, Yuval Levin writes how recommitting to our institutions can revive the American dream.  

  5. Inspirational quotes, like “If the only prayer you ever say in your entire life is thank you, it will be enough,” Meister Eckhart, Christian Mystic. 

  6. Thanksgiving Day Prayer by Walter Rauschenbusch -- An excerpt: We thank you for our senses, By which we hear the songs of birds, And see the splendor of the summer fields, And taste of the autumn fruits, And rejoice in the feel of the snow, And smell the breath of the spring. 

  7. Five Gratitude Practices from Thich Nhat Hanh Foundation 

  8. Pandemic by Lynn Ungar: An excerpt: And when your body has become still, reach out with your heart. Know that we are connected in ways that are terrifying and beautiful. 

  9. Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer -- In a rich braid of reflections that range from the creation of Turtle Island to the forces that threaten its flourishing today, she circles toward a central argument: that the awakening of a wider ecological consciousness requires the acknowledgment and celebration of our reciprocal relationship with the rest of the living world. 

  10. The Optimist from the Washington Post -- A selection of inspiring stories to help you disconnect, hit refresh and start the week off right, delivered every Wednesday and Sunday.

  11. The Good Stuff from CNN – A weekly newsletter that shares stories of fascinating discoveries, everyday heroes, inspiring movements and great things happening right in your backyard. 

  12. NYT’s ‘Wordplay’ Column -- This column about NYT’s daily crosswords includes a section from the constructor of each day’s puzzle, and they are consistently, amazingly, full of gratitude. 

  13. When Things Fall Apart -- How can we live our lives when everything seems to fall apart—when we are continually overcome by fear, anxiety, and pain? The answer, Pema Chödrön suggests, might be just the opposite of what you expect.

  14. Is Thanksgiving Just for the ‘Haves’? -- Paul Raushenbush explores what Thanksgiving means when it is stripped of all the things we ‘have.’ 

  1. The Big Benefits of a Little Thanks -- Harvard Business Review professors Francesca Gino and Adam Grant talk about their research on gratitude. Their research shows the workplace is the place where gratitude is lacking but has the potential to be incredibly powerful. 
  2. Modern Love podcast -- These stories are a great reminder of all the beautifully imperfect ways we seek and offer love.  
  3. Poetry Unbound by Onbeing: Anchor your week by listening to the everyday poetry of your life, with new episodes on Monday and Friday during the season. 
  4. On Being with Krista Tippett -- A Peabody Award-winning public radio show and podcast. What does it mean to be human? How do we want to live? And who will we be to each other? Each week a new discovery about the immensity of our lives. 
  5. Jesuitical -- Each episode features a guest who offers a unique perspective on faith, culture or current events.  
  6. Alicia Keys, Brandi Carlile - A Beautiful Noise 
  7. Wait Wait...Don't Tell Me!: NPR -- An hour-long weekly news radio panel show produced by WBEZ and National Public Radio in Chicago, Illinois. On the program, panelists and contestants are quizzed in humorous ways about that week's news. 
  8. Unlocking Us -- Brené Brown unpacks and explores the ideas, stories, experiences, books, films, and music that reflect the universal experiences of being human, from the bravest moments to the most brokenhearted. 
  9. I Weigh -- a community allyship platform built to share ideas and stories that ultimately mobilize activism. 
  10. Scene on Radio -- Scene on Radio is a Peabody-nominated podcast that dives deeply into issues central to American society, exploring who we were and who we are. 
  11. 10,000 Maniacs - These Are Days 
  12. Leonard Cohen - Passing Through 

If you are looking for a way to become an interfaith leader, work for racial equity and build bridges, please check out our free curriculum "We Are Each Other's" and start your interfaith leadership today

more from IFYC

To explore what American clergy are doing to support the vaccine effort, Rabbi Julie Schonfeld interviewed a series of faith leaders about their tradition's views on public health & vaccination & asked what they are doing in the vaccination effort.
His message was clear: For the future to have a chance at all, parts of the past had to be left behind, and all of us have to convene around common symbols.
A survey released by PRRI (Public Religion Research Institute) found that the American public sentiment, across most religious groups, is much closer to the policies the Biden administration is proposing than those put in place by Trump.
The Conversation U.S. asked six education experts how teachers—and parents—can help young people comprehend, analyze, and process what happened on January 6.
"It was an appropriately spiritual beginning to a faith-infused day and what is shaping up to be an unapologetically religious presidential term for Biden, the second Catholic president in U.S. history."
Large majorities of today’s young adults understandably lack confidence in institutions and are inclined toward distrust of others. Yet they exhibit a knack for recasting challenges as adventures and they set out to conquer them.
My cousin and I are Christian, Cuban women imploring for conversation in an effort to present different perspectives, in order to develop our own identities in a society that only seems to value polarization and tribalism.
As a Christian who is also a minister, I live between the Great Commission (sharing the Gospel) and the Greatest Commandment (loving God and my neighbor).
Five Bridgebuilding field leaders--Rev. Jen Bailey, Kalia Abiade, Mandisa Thomas, Simran Jeet Singh, and Branden Polk--came together to discuss the decisive need for action, not empty commitments to change, and how we can impart these principles.
"This moment thus necessitates moral clarity and courage concerning the trajectory of this nation. Too many have followed the path of cynicism and opportunism away from any shared commitment to a common good."
"Both the suffering and the pursuit of justice stand true at the same time. We must hold and be responsive to both."
It is new every year. Watching my students move from multifaith to interfaith. Daring to tear down walls and build bridges to faith traditions and spiritual expressions different from their own.
It is reasonable to believe that King would support holding people accountable for crimes committed, but King also held a higher hope for at least some of those who were part of the mob.
Having recently completed a monograph on the rhetoric of divine wrath, a year ago I led an honors seminar on the way in which an angry deity is presented in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. It was the most successful course I’ve ever taught.
The four officially wrapped up their fellowship on Sunday (Jan. 10) with a virtual graduation where they shared the lessons they learned from one another during the tumultuous year.
...But if you follow the evidence from the very start and all throughout, President Trump has thrived in generating chaos and stirring up doubt. Was this a premeditated effort that was designed to create some larger future momentum?
A Biden transition official noted there was significant energy at the meeting created by Biden's promise to overturn President Donald Trump's travel ban, which advocates characterize as a "Muslim ban."
The presence of anti-Semitic symbols and sentiment at the Capitol riot raised alarms among Jewish Americans and experts who track discrimination and see it as part of an ongoing, disturbing trend.
And so this Administration gives me hope that we can rebuild. Or, to use the President-elect’s own transition team slogan, that we can “build back better.”
In too many cases, religious beliefs and commitments have been overshadowed, and even dominated by political and racial cleavages.
To achieve full religious diversity, equity, and inclusion, it is important for the new Presidential administration to establish more interfaith dialogue and opportunities to work together.

The opinions contained in this piece are solely the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the views of Interfaith Youth Core. Interfaith America encourages a wide range of views and strives to maintain a respectful tone with a goal of greater understanding and cooperation between people of different faiths, worldviews, and traditions.