Hands down, Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. Once the festivities for Halloween have passed I am so excited to begin the journey towards that fourth Thursday in November. Thanksgiving just seems to embody all that is good in a holiday: great and abundant food, time with family and friends, a meaningful and profound history, and a freakishly enduring lack of materialism (not counting Black Friday). It doesn't carry the frenetic stress and pressure that Christmas often has, and who doesn't like a four day weekend?
Above all, Thanksgiving provides a reason to openly, regularly, and creatively practice gratitude. This is something so important to me as a person and as a mom, but if I'm honest it's not always the orientation of my heart and mind. At least for the month of November I'm reminded to focus on it and last year I had an impromptu idea to help me and my family make "giving thanks" a daily discipline. It came together so easily and beautifully. Here's what we did:
I pulled out some card stock and had my toddler paint one side with a burnt umber color we created by loosely mixing red, orange and brown paint. We used acrylics but tempura would work just fine, even watercolors could make a beautiful transparent and layered effect.
Once the paint dried, I simply started cutting out simple leaf shapes about four inches in length. Older kids could easily do this part too.
We cut out enough leaves so that each family member would have a good handful leading up to Thanksgiving. I put them in a wire basket with a pen and placed it on our dining room table. Almost every night, or when inspiration struck, we would take a minute to write something we were thankful for on a leaf and it would get placed back in the basket.
Our tradition on Thanksgiving morning is to share a special brunch together, just the four of us. We read and talk about the amazing history of the courageous pilgrims, we pray, we look through our Thanksgiving scrapbook and we reminisce about past family celebrations. Then we take time to read out loud all of the things we've written down over the course of the last few weeks.
There is something powerful about speaking these blessings out loud to one another, and having them written down to look back on. It's an amazing start to a full and fun day, and it helps us to grasp hold of the fact that life is filled with so many gifts, even in the midst of struggle, challenges and loss. Our attitude and perspectives are aligned with what we have, instead of what we're lacking or what we want. Quite simply, we feel content. I love Thanksgiving!