There’s a lot of excitement about the upcoming holiday around here! Thanksgiving isn’t really my kids’ favorite holiday per se, but they know that it starts the Christmas holiday season and that is indeed their favorite holiday. So they’ve been happily helping decorate and getting all their favorite Christmas music together while talking about what’s to come.
As part of our homeschooling routine, my children usually have a daily writing exercise. At the beginning of the year, I tried to think of random questions and topics that they could write about. What’s your favorite food? Tell me about your favorite toy. … and so on. But as the year progressed, and as I listened to my children complain the way that only little children can, I thought it would be a good idea to combine their writing exercises with some reflection. And so we started our gratitude journals.
The premise was simple. Each day they’d draw a picture of something they were grateful for and then write a couple of sentences about it. I noticed, though, that they really enjoyed this exercise. There was no longer any sluggishness when it came to writing. Instead, they seemed almost enthusiastic. I even heard them throughout the day mention “I’m going to write about that in my gratitude journal tomorrow!” It was lovely to hear them focusing on the things that they were grateful for, rather than the things they wanted. I hope that sort of mindframe becomes normal thinking for them as they grow.
But this exercise didn’t end with my children – I began to participate too! With a table full of markers and white paper in front of me, and two happy children drawing away, I decided that I could use a dose of gratitude in my life as well. And so I began to join my children in thankfulness. I soon realized that, like my children, I often thought too much about what we needed, rather than what we have. I found myself even looking forward to having a “reason” to draw again, without any real purpose or design to stick to – just to create from the heart.
And since I’m hosting Thanksgiving dinner, I thought it might even be a nice time to spread the gratitude to the rest of the family as well. I printed up some papers with the simple prompt “I am grateful” with room to write. I would never insist, but I hope that my family is as open to participating in remembering the good in our lives, especially on the national day of Thanksgiving. If you’re interested in a copy of your own, you are more than welcome to download mine here (pdf).
Thanksgiving is a holiday traditionally associated with giving thanks, and even though we started this exercise in the beginning of November, I plan to keep it up throughout the rest of our school year as well. It’s helpful to start my days remembering the good things in my life, and all the wonderful things I have to be grateful for. I love how it has taken on a life of its own and grown to remind us all to be thankful for all the wonderful things that we have.
I hope that all of us , and all of you, amidst the hustle and the bustle of preparing food, getting ready for family and all that comes with it; that we can take a moment to reflect upon all of life’s blessings.
~ Mellie ★