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!