What can you give to your family and friends that costs nothing and makes you both feel great?


Just stopping, calming ourselves and then writing a simple card thanking our loved ones for being there for us and recognising the qualities in them that we appreciate, opens our hearts and theirs. We take time to acknowledge what we appreciate about those that we often take for granted. 

Yes it takes time and mindfulness to do this but it offers a gift beyond value. Instead of dwelling on what irritates us about a loved one, we remember and connect with all the positive qualities they have.

In the Plum Village tradition we often talk of our family and friends as beautiful flowers in the garden of humanity. We talk about keeping our ‘flowers’ watered with appreciation and gratitude. 

You will know the feeling of being watered yourself. When someone has genuinely appreciated you, it generates real warmth between you. So this festive season take the opportunity to ‘water the flowers’ of those in your family.

How can you build gratitude into your family routine?

Many families and couples have a daily gratitude practice – usually in the evening when they stop to review what they have appreciated about their day. With younger children this practice can be at bedtime and every person is asked to identify 3 ‘gratitudes’ parents included. It is a good way to look for the positive and to wind down from the day. And the Festive season is an ideal time to start this.

A gratitude meditation for the festive season

The end of the year is a good time to acknowledge our gratitude for the many things that support our life. Hold the following thoughts in mind during your meditation session breathing with each phrase one by one for a few moments so that you can engage with the sense of it.

Phrase 1

Grateful for all my ancestors – my parents, my grandparents and previous generations – who have transmitted much to me including health, strength, skills and understanding.

Phrase 2

Grateful for the land I live in and the facilities there – the lovely trees, my home, the plumbing, the refuse collections and many other things that make my life easy.


Phrase 3

Grateful for my current family and friends with all their positive qualities.


Phrase 4

Grateful for all the other people in my life that support me during the year, including my doctor and dentist, shopkeepers and many others.

Phrase 5

Grateful for my own strengths including the love, understanding, kindness and generosity I have.