I have always loved Thanksgiving. Nothing upsets me more than when I see the news stations focusing more on Black Friday than on Thanksgiving. Its not about the food for me. While I love to cook and eating is always a pleasure, I enjoy what Thanksgiving is supposed to mean. I like the idea behind a day of giving thanks. While I have always had a strange affinity with this holiday, the practical application of gratitude was presented in a book called 1000 Gifts. The book tells a story and gives a practical way to develop gratitude which I took to heart. In times that I was in so much turmoil and devastation and despair, this wonderful technique helped me learn to choose to be happy and grateful.
I began by doing exactly as the book suggested. The instructions were simply to write 10 things I was thankful for in the day. The goal was to do this for 100 days and the number of things that I was grateful for would add up to 1000 things. For me, however, I have a horrible memory. I can easily block out the good, so I quickly learned how to adapt it for me. Every day I carry with me a little journal. It was a simple ten cent purchase- a little flimsy book that easily fit in my pocket and has more coffee spills on it than can be counted, but this notebook contains this year’s grateful list for each day. As I am prone to depression, I will review my list and feel that depression lifted.
I wanted to teach my son to be grateful. Every night at bedtime, I do an overview of our day with him, telling him how much I enjoyed little things that we did or how proud I was of something he did throughout the day. This year I have noticed how far his memory is advancing. Just today, he reminded me to bring my wallet into the store when last week I had had to run back to the car to get it as I had left it in the console and asked him to remind me to always bring it with me. I was flabbergasted to see him remember it, and I wanted to further teach him to use his memory to help him remember to be grateful. Obviously, at 2 years old, he can’t write down what he is grateful for, but this year, I wanted him to learn just the little application of the technique that helped me– to write review what he is grateful for. I bought a several pumpkins at a local pumpkin patch and a paint marker. Each day I write down something that he tells me he is thankful for on one of the pumpkins with the pumpkin, and I have another pumpkin that I put down what I am thankful for that I did with him. Sometimes they are the same, but I try to choose something different than he does. While I am hoping to teach him to do this daily, it has been fun to do. I do review it with him. I read the past entries and will talk to him about it. (For instances, “Wow. Remember when we_____.” “Wasn’t it so great when we________?”) We have had so much fun doing this, and it is just as much for me as it is for him. I love looking at this with him. I find so much joy in his list of gratitude. I have learned so much from his gratitude list. I already love him so much, but this gives me so many more reasons to appreciate him. I have found that he loves our times of remembering when, when daddy took time to set up his track and play with his Hot Wheels, when I told him that I was proud of him or when I took him to the library, he loves a lot and a lot more of the little things that I would not have thought mattered.
We all teach our child to say thank you, but I am astounded at what I have learned so far and am working on ways to incorporate this further, but I wanted to share this to give other moms a way to not only teach gratitude but learn a little about their child.