Friends Holidays

The five senses of thankfulness and friendship

Matching the five basic senses perceived by the body to thankfulness and friendship.

With the calendar turning to November, so also do our thoughts of the upcoming holiday season, which has its kick-off on Thanksgiving Day (in the U.S.). With everyone considering what this pandemic-focused celebration will look like, I’m reminded of Thanksgiving holidays past, what they meant to me and the friendships that grew more meaningful because of them.

Several years ago, with my family located out of state, I always flew to spend Thanksgiving with them at their home. After the brief, weekend holiday, I’d return home with an itinerary already set to return for Christmas. And there were some years, depending on the calendar, when the time between visits was only three weeks. During one Thanksgiving visit, when my four-year old niece put on a mystified face and said, “That’s crazy!” I knew a change needed to be made.

The following year, I stayed local for Thanksgiving and received an invitation to join friends and their families for the holiday. These are friends I’d known for years but, at their Thanksgiving gathering, something wonderful happened. 

By being in their home, meeting their friends and family, playing with their kids, getting to know their spouses, helping with the meal–an amazing feeling came over me. I immediately felt a closer bond with them, and realized a more meaningful friendship that continues to grow all these years later. For the decision I made to stay local, and the dinner invitation that followed that led to that important moment, I am forever grateful.

The Five Senses

In the spirit of discovering that new level of friendship, I’ve been curious to match the five basic senses perceived by the body to thankfulness and friendship. Each of the senses is a tool our brains use to build a clear picture of the world around us.

As we enter the season where thankfulness is most often thought of, and our friendships come into closer view, here’s my interpretation of what the five senses respond to in connection with our treasured and most meaningful friendships.

  • Sight – What does thankfulness look like? 
    Seeing the smile on a friend’s face as they greet you.
  • HearingWhat does thankfulness sound like? 
    The rumble of laughter when a story about an adventure you and your friends shared, which has already been told 1,000 times, goes for 1,001!
  • Smell – What does thankfulness smell like? 
    The aroma of favorite breads, cookies or cakes that arrive either just out of the oven, or are freed by their packaging to be enjoyed by everyone.
  • Taste – What does thankfulness taste like? 
    See Smell and replace aroma with taste.
  • Touch – What does thankfulness feel like? 
    It feels like comfort, of the soul and of the mind. Whether it’s a hug when greeting one another, or saying goodbye for now. Or, when just sitting in the same space, while reading, working on a puzzle–which technically isn’t touch, but in some manner, it is.

This season, as we make safe and healthy changes to how we celebrate the end of the year and gather hope for the year ahead, be aware of your five senses of thankfulness and share them, as gifts, with your friends.

By Terri Birkeland

Photo by Debby Hudson on Unsplash

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