America, the past few weeks have been anxiety-producing and downright tough. I’m not going into politics today and in this space. Instead, I’m telling you about the Thankful Jar (again) and why I’m bringing it back.
In the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving last year, I got an idea via an NPR story and Pinterest to make a Thankful Jar. It’s a simple project. You cut up pieces of paper, make your family write down what they’re thankful for daily, and toss them into a mason jar. You can pick any time to read them. We read ours on Thanksgiving last year.
This year, I feel like we need a little extra thankfulness, so we’re going to keep the Thankful Jar going through the end of the year, reading what we’ve written sporadically (read: on the rare night that we’re not stuffing food in our faces and running off to sports or music class).
Why am I bringing back the Thankful Jar? Because we have so much to be thankful for, and it’s easy to lose sight of that. Practicing daily gratitude has many benefits–both physical and mental. And it’s contagious. My go-to website lately for mindfulness and practicing gratitude is Berkeley’s Greater Good in Action.
But back to the Thankful Jar. This year, more than others, America, let’s spend the week before Thanksgiving (one week from today) being thankful. If you want more details about it, you can check out my blog from last year here.
It’s snowing, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade is on, I’m still in pajamas, and I’m about to get myturkeyon. I wanted to take a minute out of a crazy-wonderful day and share my gratitude for my blog. I have enjoyed every minute that I’ve spent blogging. And I’m grateful for all the people who have taken the time to share in this creative endeavour with me. Thank you for reading all the cooky things I feel compelled to share. Happy Thanksgiving, y’all!
I also wanted to share my latest guest blog on Mile High Mamas, Five Ways to Make the Most of Your Art Museum Visit with Kids. I love to shop as much as the next gal (probably more) but think about skipping the Black Friday madness this year and visiting an art museum or getting outsideinstead.
I am constantly thinking about how to teach my kids gratitude, and I am constantly thinking about how I can bring more gratitude into my life. I believe that we chose how we react to events in our lives, and I want the overriding sentiment in my life to be gratitude. But why gratitude? Because focusing on gratitude forces you to count all the good things in your life as opposed to the bad. And I think there is a direct link between gratitude and joy. Selfishly, I want my life and the lives of my family members to be joyful.
That said, my eight-year-old son can be a real ass, and it’s a daily battle to help him (and me) think positively. Forget about getting him to say kind and loving things to his little sister. The other morning he woke up practically snarling at us. I’ve considered nicknaming him coywolf in honor of the new carnivore that has emerged in the Eastern U.S.. After the third insult, I got so mad that I called him a jerk, and I stormed out of the room. When I finished running through a litany of the ways he’s disappointed me (inside my head), I regrouped and reminded myself of the things he’s good at and that he’s testing boundaries. Then I apologized to him for yelling, and, out of mom-guilt, I devised a new tactic for teaching gratitude.
Since Thanksgiving’s just around the corner, I implemented the Thankful Jar (kudos to Pinterest). Each day, every member of the family has to think of something they are thankful for, write it down, and put it in the jar. On Thanksgiving day, before the rest of my family descends upon us, we will take fifteen or twenty minutes and read everything we’ve put in the jar. You don’t have to use fancy paper or a special paper punch (I did because I have them and look for reasons to justify having bought them). If you have a mason jar in your house, that’s great. If not, use a tall drinking glass or vase. Make this fun and easy for everyone.
The Thankful Jar is a small push-up with a big impact. While I admire the NPR interviewee who spent a year living by the rules of the Bible (and discovered that practicing daily gratitude changed how he approached life more than anything else), my family needs something we can fit daily into our too-busy lives between now and Thanksgiving. The Thankful Jar requires five minutes a day, a jar, small pieces of paper, and a pen.