Monday, November 2, 2009

A Grateful Chain

In my junior year of college, I was issued a challenge to keep a 'gratitude journal.' I had just been dumped by a boy I hoped I would marry. My classes were stressful. And I--a typically healthy 20-year-old--had shingles. So what was I grateful for?

Of course, writing 5 things I was thankful for every day that semester turned out to be a life-altering experience. I learned that happy thoughts beget happy thoughts. I learned that we can (and must!) be grateful, no matter what hardships we might be passing through. Nearly a decade later, though I no longer keep a specific gratitude journal, I am more conscientious. When I find myself moping or feeling sorry for myself, I start counting blessings.

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. Partly I love the feast. Partly I love the family time. But most of all, I love the chance to really focus on thanksgiving for a whole season.

And I really want to teach my children to recognize blessings and express gratitude. So here is what we're doing this year--a Grateful Chain. We learned this tradition from one of our favorite families back in Utah. Similar to Sarah's service paper chains, we've cut a bunch of autumn-colored paper strips, and are each recording something we're thankful for each day of the month. So far, our four little links are hanging by our window, and by the end of the month, they will fill our dining room. On Thanksgiving, we'll read through the entire paper chain.

More ideas on teaching kids about gratitude? Pray, tell!


families are forever said...

I have done this with my children through the years, we have lapsed the last few for some reason, time to pull back out the chains. We also do something similar in Dec. with a Christmas count down, but instead of things we are thankful for we do acts of service.

Joan said...

Perfect, perfect. We're doing it tonight for fhe. What a lovely idea. Thanks, Anne.
Ps: laughed out loud at the mention of your shingles incident. NOT funny, I know...but now that it has come and gone it is a bit funny now, right? :)

Heather said...

We do something similar to...we use turkey feathers and make ourselves a great big turkey to feast on at the end of the month. Each feather has something on it that we are grateful for...we start tonight as our family home evening lesson. I too love this holiday and am sad when it gets overlooked.

Kay said...

We had Thankful Thursdays at my house. Most Thursday dinners you would tell what you were thankful for that week. It seemed to help some teenagers in my family focus are more important things in their lives.

Helped us as parents get a little bit of an insight into what they were thinking and feeling, so we knew better how to help, serve, or love them.

jeanine said...

While I was in college we had a "grateful list" that hung on the door. It was wonderful.
The past few years I've had a "grateful jar" during the month of November for William (my almost-5-year-old). Every day we think of at least one thing to be grateful for, he draws a picture of it on a small slip of paper and we put it in the jar. By Thanksgiving our jar is full!

Jonesy said...

My good friend just posted an idea for a "Gratitude Tree" on her blog.

You start with a tree trunk and you "grow your gratitude" as you add leaves with things you're grateful for written on them.

I love the idea of immersing ourselves in gratitude before the Christmas season starts, so that hopefully it will carry through to that holiday as well.

Jonesy said...

Just made my own "Gratitude Tree" after seeing my friend's. You can check it out here if you want:

I think I'll make it for Halloween next year and hang bats off double-dipping on holiday decorations!

Megan said...

Okay, so this is another vote for thankful trees. I work on a college campus and we are going to be creating these, one per residence hall but using real branches in pots for the paper leaves to be placed on. I am so excited for the holidays!!

Matt said...

Love this idea! Glad you beat the shingles! :) We also did one with a turkey and feathers, the boys loved it, and the turkey lived taped on our fridge for the month. It was a lot of fun, hard to stay grumpy for long when you realize all you've been given.

Matt said...

I am actually Natalie, Matt's that was the first male comment here at Bloom! :)

Anna said...

Oooh! Those are so great. They are really cute. I love to write cards.

Stacy of KSW said...

Just found your site from Lisa (I <3 SweetBeats & ModEco) and just had to say I love your gratitude chain!

We do something similar in my house - a kindness chain - I put a link on it anytime the kids do something nice for one another or our family. I write what they did on the paper slip and they are so incredibly proud to watch it grow.

I guess, I'll have to remember to blog about it one of these days :-)

Anonymous said...

i just did a post on gratitude! it's that time of year i guess :)
we do the tree, where the kids write on paper leaves and we stick them onto a tree.
my 6 year old son just made an awesome book all on his own that i will totally have to blog about. he traced his hand (like a turkey), and cut out about 8 pages of this turkey. he wrote something on each page that he is thankful for (legos being on page 4 i think). he stapled it together and reads it daily. great idea!
just found your blog via dana at made, and am so happy to have found a new friend!