You hear a lot about gratitude this time of year. It’s understandable. It hearkens back to a time when it was more prevalent to grow and harvest your own food. All the hard work of the spring and summer yielded a bounty of food in the fall—which became a perfect time to pause and reflect before plunging into the depths of winter.

Today, during this time of year we’ve come to hold up the word gratitude as another type of pause, one that offers the opportunity in our busy lives to feel contentment and gratefulness for the modern bounty around us. As Dr. Robert Holden said: “The miracle of gratitude is that it shifts your perception to such an extent that it changes the world you see”.

Studies have shown that people who feel a strong sense of gratitude in their lives are healthier—both mentally and physically. They sleep better, they have better self esteem, and they feel less lonely and isolated. And often times those people act with more generosity and compassion. In fact, for some people, that sense of gratitude permeates their everyday lives, not just the time around Thanksgiving.

This is exactly the way that Bernhard and Colleen Brenner have been living their lives. They both have a deep sense of gratitude for all the good things in life. It wasn’t always easy to feel such gratitude, as Bernhard grew up in war-torn Germany during World War II. But perhaps the struggles and loss experienced early in life sparked the sense of gratitude that he has today.

Bernie and Coleen

Colleen and Bernhard began the St. Croix Foundation specifically to help other people, and formalize the spirit of giving they’d embodied their whole lives. Since 1994, their mission has been a simple one: to help those who cannot otherwise help themselves. Over the years, the Brenners have supported their community through the Foundation, with donations serving people with disabilities, child and youth services, scholarship and educational assistance, day counseling and crisis organization, and serving our veterans. The Foundation has impacted the lives of so many in our community, in ways both big and small.

Cultivating a spirit of gratitude might be as easy as starting a conversation about it. As you gather with family and friends this Thanksgiving, consider initiating a conversation about gratitude and what it means to you. To help you get started, here are some topics:

What does gratitude mean to you? What things are you grateful for in your life?

How do you let the spirit of gratitude flourish throughout the year, and not just during Thanksgiving?

Why does being grateful matter? How does it affect you?

Are you more grateful at a certain age? Why? How can we cultivate gratitude among young people?

Do you have a gratitude role model, someone who inspires you?

Have you been the recipient of something that made you feel abundantly grateful? How did that impact your life?

What small things can you do to live a life of gratitude?

However you celebrate the season, we hope you’ll find an opportunity to feel that sense of gratitude for all the bounty in your own lives, and perhaps let that sense of gratitude inspire you to help others in some way. At St. Croix, we’re exceedingly grateful for all our partners, our retailers, the people that support us by choosing to wear our clothing and for our staff, community, family and friends. We have so much to be grateful for. From all of us at St. Croix, we wish you a very happy, joyful and bountiful Thanksgiving!