Monday, November 14, 2011

give thanks

I love this time of year.  We are less than two weeks away from Thanksgiving.  The leaves are changing and falling.  The weather here can't make up it's mind is changing.  As we gaze into December on the calendar we see Christmas.  Our family's favorite holiday.  And then we roll right into birthday season for all our kids in January and February.

This will be the 14th Thanksgiving that I have gone to West Virginia with Mark to spend time with his family.  His entire family.  Between his parents, his sisters their husbands and their kids, aunts, uncles, cousins, second cousins and a few friends there is typically over 50 people gathered at his sister's house.  It is crazy fun and the kids have an absolute blast.  We start talking about our trip to WV in September and the kids get excited to see their cousins.  However, I realized, we don't spend much time talking about why we get together.

Since we don't host or even for that matter make/bring anything to Thanksgiving dinner, we don't really focus on the reason behind the gathering.  We just focus on the gathering part of the holiday. This year, I didn't want Thanksgiving to go by without being more intentional about it. 

I also think it is our job as parents to help our kids learn an attitude of gratitude.  That we need to teach them how to respond to situations with thankfulness instead of comparing what we have or don't have to others.  This year, I wanted to help my boys, now 7 and 5, to think about what being thankful means.  So I borrowed an idea I have seen around different blogs for several years.  The concept of a thankful 'tree'.  It has been done in many ways but the one I liked the most was a large 'tree' with cut out leaves to write what you are thankful for on and then tape to the tree.

I'm somewhat embarrassed to even post pictures because our tree looks so funny.  But I never did claim to be an artist.  In fact, I had this idea completed for several days before we implemented and was so stuck on making my tree look perfect that we didn't start when I wanted too.  Isn't that ridiculous!  I hate when I get all stuck in my perfectionist mode and miss an opportunity...

Anyway, we painted our pantry door with chalkboard paint years ago.  So I just drew a tree in chalk on the door and cut out some leaves with my cricuit (you could totally do it by hand and even have your kids help you cut out leaves but as I already told you, I was stuck in perfectionist mode).  We have a pile of leaves on our counter (I resist the urge to put them in a pretty basket but it bothers me every time I walk by the pile.  Instead of putting them in a basket, I straighten the pile).  The kids write or tell me what to write what they are thankful for that day and we then tape the leaves to the tree.

I'm not sure they are being as thoughtful about what they are thankful for as I was hoping.  But I think things like this evolve as we do them.  And a lot of times, things like this go better in my head than in real life.  The boys really like this idea and remind me every night that we get to write on our leaves.  I'm hoping to translate this into our everyday life somehow.  I've thought of incorporating it into our dinner conversations or prayer time at night.

As we are thick into the 'it's not fair' stage of parenting, I'm hoping to find a lasting way to help my boys be thankful.  This give thanks tree seems to be a starting point for our family.  What are you doing to help your kids remember to be thankful and cultivate an attitude of gratitude? 


Blessed x3 said...

Love this idea!! I want to do this next year since we are packing. I also agree the important about be thankful.


Gardenia said...

I love your thankfulness tree, Anne.

noreen said...

You have a lovely thankfulness tree1 I think its so cool that you have it in the kitchen which is frequented often by kids no doubt!