I hope all of you had a wonderful Thanksgiving celebration, however small or large, simple or elaborate. I know that it is now officially the Christmas season, but before I move on, I thought I would share the results of the little gratitude game that our family played this month.
As you may recall, each person in our family began November 1 writing down (at least) one thing per day that we were grateful for. I had prepared scraps and tags from the Winchester paper and had them in a basket, along with pens, in our dining room. At the end of the first week, it looked like everyone was on board and participating faithfully. Even our daughter who is in college and not at home, kept up! In fact, she only missed one day! By Thanksgiving morning there were probably over 100 slips of paper in the cornucopia. Our younger daughter told me that morning that she was more excited for that than she was for the meal. Following the meal, I poured all the slips of paper into a basket for easier access. We passed the basket around and one by one pulled out an entry and read it aloud. Some of them needed to be explained, like when Jenna simply wrote, "glass elevators" or "clean, straight teeth." It prompted communication about the big and little, serious and silly things that had happened in our lives throughout the month. There was greater understanding and lots of laughter. One of the highlights was when my husband picked a card that our older daughter had written saying… "I’m thankful that I’ll always be daddy’s little girl." He jumped up, hugged her and said, "I knew you loved me!" (There were not many outward manifestations of that love throughout her 18th year!) It was very time consuming, which was wonderful in its own way, but I didn’t want people to get tired or bored with it. We ended up passing out handfuls to each person and having them read many at a time. If you have a bigger family, you may want to read them at the end of each day together as a family.
That evening, after my mom had gone home and attention turned to other things, I sat down and put all of them in a paper bag book that I had prepared ahead of time. The pages were already covered with paper and I had already made the inserts with tabs for the "pockets" in the paper bags. Originally, I had intended to put photos on those inserts but we had so many notes of gratitude that I used the inserts for them as well. I have included a couple photos of parts of the finished product. I was thrilled with a tangible expression of our gratitude that was done on Thanksgiving night!
It started out as an experiment, of sorts. It ended up as one of the best parts of our Thanksgiving celebration. For those whose hearts don’t naturally see abundance, it helped. For those who do, it was fun. The family time we spent together reading everybody’s entries was the best. I think this will definitely go from a one-time experiment to an ongoing "tradition." In fact, my mom and friend have already asked, "How can we do this for Christmas?"
As we turn our hearts and minds to the festivities of the Christmas season, I encourage you to be thinking of ways to keep it meaningful and simple. I learned this Thanksgiving, that it CAN be done!