Monday, November 10, 2014

The Art of Being Thankful


Gratitude: a feeling of appreciation or thanks: the state of being grateful;  thankfulness
On Sunday we visited a local nursery that was hosting a holiday open house... We saw enormous decorated Christmas trees, fancy wreaths... and loads of seasonal gifts and ornaments...  It's one of my favorite spots all year long --especially at the start of the growing season.

The open house was sweet, a soft opening to the rush of holiday splendor that is about to surround us very soon...

Riding home in the car, we happened upon a Christmas song playing on the radio...

It was "Sleigh Ride"...

With it still being two solid weeks before Thanksgiving, you can imagine our family's surprise...the kids were delighted.

My daughter exclaimed "I feel the Christmas Spirit!!  "Can you feel that good Christmas-y feeling too??"

I think the combination of just having visited a holiday gift shop bursting with Christmas trees, cookies and the smell of burning cinnamon candles coupled with hearing the very first holiday song of the season  --sent her to a very happy place.

And she was right... it was a very cheery car ride home....

It also made me think about poor old Thanksgiving... There are no radio stations impatiently waiting to play Thanksgiving tunes...

I think I only know a couple of Thanksgiving songs, and they are not sweeping the airways...

"There's a great Big Turkey on Grandpa's Farm"
 never really caught on...

We don't usually talk about feeling the "Thanksgiving  Spirit"

... or do we?

...and if we don't...

 Maybe we ought to...

It made me think about the season of Thanksgiving and gratitude.
I feel increasingly grateful as each year passes.  I'm not sure if it's tied to my ever increasing "wisdom" and life experience or having the perspective that only a mother and wife can have after being a mother and wife long enough to know how profoundly lucky, and blessed she truly is...

 It's probably a little of both.

For me, being thankful and grateful meet at the corner of perspective and experience. Which might be why, as I am getting older, I am also getting so much better at having a grateful heart and doing my best to notice all the smallest details in everyday life.  I try to show my children through my example.

I often wonder, how can I help my children to have gratitude?

Wouldn't it be nice if I could hand them some??
...I would just love to give my children the gift of having gratitude, and a sense of feeling grateful...
How does a mother teach that??  Show that??

But gratitude isn't that simple...
I can't go pick up some heartfelt appreciation at Target... I can't bake a batch of thankful, or make some gratitude with my hot glue gun.... and I can make a lot of crafty things with my glue gun...

Being thankful is not really a gift a parent can give to a child...

Gratitude--  being grateful, really and truly appreciative, requires something more.

***

What I can give my children are tools to become grateful and the opportunity to be reflective. They have to arrive at a heart filled with thankfulness all on their own; in their own way and in their own time.

Being grateful is a lot like the "Christmas Spirit" that my daughter so gleefully announced she was feeling from the back seat of the car...

Gratitude washes over us, from deep within.  It's a feeling. 

Gratitude is something that I wish for my kids to know and to feel, but it's also something that no one can manufacture for someone else.  As a mother, I can try my very best to put the right ingredients in place and hope that my children can pull the recipe together for themselves.

***

My children, in many ways, don't have very much life experience or perspective on which to draw from...so for them, being grateful is a harder concept to grasp... and harder feeling to feel...

That is where my part comes in, I can help my children to have experiences; experiences that can give them perspective and open the door to a grateful heart.

Gratitude often gives birth to contentment...being thankful for all that you have, tempers the need to have more.
***

Last weekend, we attended a benefit to support a local food bank for children called Kid's Cafe', a food program that serves wholesome meals to under served children.  This was a beautiful way to help share with my children the season of giving.  We spent the afternoon teaching our children ways that they can reach out to serve others, and at the same time help them to gain some perspective... all of which, helps to grow the thankful hearts, that I know they have....

Our favorite part of the event was receiving a bag with handmade artwork from some of the children who attend the Kid's Cafe'... it was a small, but deeply significant connection for our children. The drawings on the gift bags were just like the drawings that our children make here at home.  All the way home, our kids wondered about the lives and the well-being of the children that had made the drawings for us.

Perspective.
One of my greatest hopes for my children is that they will honor the gifts they have been given, feel gratitude and lift up those that are less fortunate.  --that's not too much for a mom to ask.

***

In the spirit of Thanksgiving... we made a thoughtful craft...
To honor the season of giving, and to keep gratitude at the forefront, I had our kids write down all the things they feel grateful for...
We decided to recycle our Halloween tree...
I added a few pine cone and acorn ornaments.
 The kids wrote what they are grateful for onto brown (lunch bag) leaves.
We used cookie cutters to trace the shapes onto lunch bags, cut out the leaves and put them onto the tree.
It's a nice reminder in our dining room of what this season is all about... giving, a thankful heart and gratitude.



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