Thanksgiving - Giving Thanks All Year Long - An Attitude of Gratitude
When we started our family, we started with three kids, all at once, ages seven, eight and nine. I must say it was a very difficult ... a ... delivery.
I'm not sure how we survived ... especially by the time C.P.S. and Adopt A Special Kid (the agency that was the go between C.P.S. and us) got finished with us, but survive we did. But the hoops they made us jump through were a piece of cake compared to the ten years that were to follow. Those ten years were some of the most difficult years of my life, but then that is a whole different story.
Unlike most parents who begin with infants, we had to decide what family traditions we wanted to start in our family, immediately. The kids moved in with us one week after we met them and a few days after school started in August of 1996. So our first real holiday where traditions would be started was Thanksgiving of that year.
On that Thanksgiving day, I was ready. And I'm not talking about the meal, although I had prepared more than enough food. I was ready to start a new tradition for our family's Thanksgiving. And, this tradition would require a year's worth of preparation in order to be ready for the following Thanksgiving!
You're probably wondering what I have up my sleeve this time, aren't you?
To begin with, I think we all ought to live with an attitude of gratitude all the time. (I must confess, sometimes I struggle with this attitude thing.) And I think that we should be thankful for things and remember those things on more than just Thanksgiving Day. I think that many times our thankfulness gets lost, and Thanksgiving has become nothing more than cooking, eating, napping, shopping and watching football. The thankfulness part has gotten lost in all the doing.
Before moving on to "what I have up my sleeve", let me state, I do not know whether I came up with this on my own or if I read about it somewhere. Whichever, it is a totally awesome idea!
Preparations Taking a Year
When I say I was ready, I mean that I had purchased a notebook and found a pen laying around somewhere. This is all the preparation that I needed for our new Thanksgiving tradition. Really, all that was required was pen and paper, and a place to store them that was accessible to everyone.
Now, you are probably wondering what kind of Thanksgiving tradition I could possibly be preparing for? Or maybe you're already three steps ahead of me! But I certainly had the kids guessing!
I told them that starting today, Thanksgiving 1996, and all the way until the following Thanksgiving, we were going to write down things that happened in our lives during that year for which we were grateful. This would ensure that these things were not forgotten. And then the following Thanksgiving, we would spend time reading out loud and sharing those times, people, or things that we were grateful for or had been grateful for.
What are the rules?
I laid out a few ground rules and then we were set to go!
- The entries had to be something that you personally were thankful for.
- No bad words (profane) could be used.
- You could not write on or over other people's entries.
- The entry had to be dated and signed.
I think these were the only rules we had, but obviously they could easily change with time if needed.
What are you thankful for?
So, what are some of the things that could be written:
- I made an "A" on my math test.
- I am so glad I'm finally over with the flu.
- My best friend Megan got to come and spend the night.
- I am thankful for our first Christmas together as a family.
- I am thankful for the dollar bill I found in the Wal-Mart parking lot.
- I am thankful for the skateboard I got from mom and dad for Christmas.
- I am thankful for the flowers that Criss (my husband) got me for Valentine's day.
- I am thankful that my son did not seriously hurt himself when he jumped out of the second floor window.
These are just a few examples. I don't have these notebooks anymore, but that is a whole other story. Just know ... I can relate to Thomas Paine's quote, ""These are the times that try men's souls..."
Other things that I liked to put in the notebooks were things that I wanted to let the kids know that I was proud of them for, their accomplishments or their choices. This could be things like:
- I am so thankful that my daughter told the truth about .... even though she knew she was going to get into trouble.
- I am so thankful for having a son who could play baseball was well as my son did tonight.
- I am thankful that I have a daughter that is as beautiful on the inside as she is on the outside.
- I am so thankful for the abilities my son has, being able to assemble things without even looking at the instructions.
- I am thankful for the artistic abilities that you have given my son.
- I am thankful for the kind heart that my daughter showed when she did ....
- I was so proud and thankful when my daughter sang a solo during the Christmas pageant.
- I am so thankful that my son was such a good sport even though his team lost the game.
I think you get the idea. This helped us remember all the things that had happened, and the things that we were thankful for, while at the same time helping the kids feel good about themselves and the things that they had done. It was a great teaching tool. And a great way to edify my children.
Putting the thanks back ...
Maybe this could be a great way to put the thanks back into your Thanksgiving! And this can be done even if you must do it alone or as a couple. We all have things to be thankful for every single day. And what a great "pick me up" tool to have at your disposal for the times that can "try men's (and women's) souls".