Chris and I have started what I hope will be a new family tradition for Thanksgiving. While appreciation and gratitude are important skills to emphasize, it seems especially appropriate during this season of Thanksgiving. I don’t know about you, but I find it is all too easy to get caught up in wish lists, Christmas shopping, baking, and cleaning for family gatherings – only to miss the opportunity to focus on the good I experience on a daily basis.
I now have a little basket with the image of a turkey sitting on the piano in our living room, along with a notepad and pencil. The reason for this basket is to remind my family members to write what they are thankful for each day. Each person can also write an appreciation memory, then fold the paper and place it in the basket. The plan is for us all to take turns reading the notes in the basket on Thanksgiving Day, then reflect on the many things we have appreciated over the last month.
I admit that my sons find it amusing to have a turkey sitting in our living room, and they frequently laugh about Tom the Turkey who is “gobbling up” their notes. Since we started this activity, I have noticed a big difference in my day when I pause, often in the middle of my busyness, and reflect on my day then write down my appreciation thoughts. I can feel my face warm up with a smile, as my body begins to relax and my breathing is deeper and calmer. Taking a short moment to think about and reflect on what I feel grateful for has been a turning point in my day.
At one point I checked the notes to see if my sons were understanding the directions, and I was deeply touched to see what my sons wrote on various sheets of paper. Reading my 5-year old’s note that said, “I love Mommy” touched my heart. I wasn’t sure if they knew what they were doing, but thankfully they did and are now doing much better than I thought.
What are you thankful for today? I hope you will consider how you can be intentional about building routines of gratitude and appreciation into your season of thankfulness. For more fun exercises, you can read 30 Days of Joy for Busy Married Couples here to practice the appreciation exercise that changed my life and my marriage