“In our daily lives, we must see that it is not happiness that makes us grateful, but the gratefulness that makes us happy.” – Albert Clarke
Now that the gluttony of Halloween trick-or-treating is wrapping up, the season of thankfulness is upon us. I start off the season grateful that my kids still have pretty good health and their teeth are not rotten after all the fun of Halloween has passed. I have done a number of activities over the years trying to help my kids focus on the things they are grateful for. And not just to think on those things, but in many cases to have them express that thanks whether out loud or to a person they appreciate.
When my oldest was toddler age, I started creating a paper tree on a spare wall or the back of the door that we could add colored cut-out leaves throughout the month. We would write things we were thankful for on the leaves and post them up, filling out the tree over the month. We tried not to repeat one another’s ideas so we could really think a lot about the many different blessings we enjoy.
As they got a little older and could do more, we added in some things we could do to express thanks. We had a bag filled with laminated cards with something on it we could in the spirit of gratitude. It had ideas such as, “We are thankful for Dad. Wash the car for him.” or “We are thankful for our teachers. Make a card for them.” Or, “We are thankful for our eyes. Watch a movie together as a family.” You could also make a paper chain with an idea of something to do on each chain.
Last year, we decided to show appreciation for people in our neighborhood. We made up plates of cookies (pumpkin snickerdoodles) and made cards thanking for them for their service to our community. We put some out for our mailman. We took some to our local librarians. We stopped in at the local fire station (and got a great tour of the fire house while we were there!) And we visited a senior home and took cards we made saying “Happy Thanksgiving.” We asked at the front desk for any people who may not get many, if any, visitors during holidays and took our cards to them. I think this was my favorite year for expressing gratitude. It felt more like we were really getting out there and letting people know that we appreciate them. We also did a few for our neighbors thanking them for being good neighbors.
Another tradition we have is a Thanksgiving book. It’s a blank spiral notebook that each year we take a picture of everyone that is together for Thanksgiving and place it in the book. Everyone who is gathered for the holiday takes some time to write things they are thankful for that year. Year to year we have a collection of the family we were gathered with and their and our expressions of gratitude that year.
I think it blesses our lives to be grateful each day. But just like other holidays that bring a focused attention on certain events or feelings, I feel the Thanksgiving season is a time to focus on having an enhanced appreciation for all the blessings we have in our lives. And especially to give thanks by doing something about it. Really show your gratitude and give back or let someone know you appreciate them. Have a wonderful, thankful season!
Other recipes you could make for someone special: