“Gratitude can transform common days into thanksgivings….” ~William Arthur Ward
Thanksgiving is just around the corner here in the United States. I love that this holiday serves as a reminder to pause and give thanks for the abundant blessings we have. However, the practice of gratitude should extend beyond November, don’t you agree?
I strive to weave appreciation, thankfulness, and acknowledgement into our family’s day to day life. Here are a few favorite ideas from our home, and I hope you’ll share your gratitude practices in the comments, as well.
Thankful from A to Z
Do you and your kids ever play the alphabet game? To play, you take turns saying a word, starting with A and trying to get all the way to Z. For the thankful version, you just have to say things you are thankful for. Simple and sweet, plus I love hearing what my girls come up with for letter x!
The best thing…. Game
Here’s a fun game for your next car ride or family walk. One person starts the game by saying The best thing about ______ is….., and everyone else chimes in with a positive comment about that person, item, or idea. For example, I might start the game with The best thing about shoes is…., and the girls might chime in with they keep our feet warm or they let me walk on rocks.
Here are some topic ideas to get you started, although I’ve found my kids have no trouble thinking of ideas!
- a person’s name
- something in nature
- our neighborhood
- our hands
- day of the week
- our home
I love this game because it helps us look for the good in everything – and yes, your kids will probably try to stump you with things like poop, garbage, and throwing-up. Don’t say I didn’t warn you!
Write it Down
You’ve heard of gratitude journals, right? This type of journaling is a simple, daily practice for acknowledging our blessings, no matter how small. I love keeping a personal gratitude journal, where I write 3-5 things I am thankful for each day. I’ve found that the more I write in my gratitude journal, the more I seek out things to be thankful for during the day.
I also like doing more public writing with the whole family, so I can model and share gratitude practices with my girls. Here are some ideas for writing about gratitude with your family:
•Fill a wall or window with thankful sayings on sticky notes.
•Keep a family gratitude journal. Write it in together once a week, or pass it around from person to person.
•Tape a large piece of paper to the wall for a week or longer. Encourage everyone in the family to add words and drawings to create a thankfulness poster.
•Set-out a jar for each member of your family, along with a stack of paper strips and pens. Write notes of gratitude to each other, over time, till the jars are full. (Take dictation for the littles.) Then sit down and read your jar full of loving, thankful words. What a great boost for not-so-awesome days!
In our family, we often talk about the idea that gratitude is not just a feeling, it’s an action. I am far from perfect at this, but it’s a great thing for me to practice side-by-side with my girls.
•Write thank you notes. Write them for obvious things, like birthday gifts, but write them for small things or just because, too.
•Brainstorm ways kids can pay forward a good deed – doing a sibling’s chore, offering to help before being asked, etc.
•Schedule time on your family calendar to show unexpected gratitude to people you love and appreciate.
“We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures.” ~Thornton Wilder
What does your family do to encourage an attitude of gratitude? What are your favorite ways of giving thanks beyond Thanksgiving Day?