The Tree of Thanksgiving

 

By: Leah Prescott

Out of the entire year, the next few weeks may be my very favorite. The sugar high of Halloween is fading (the trick is: throw away just a few pieces of candy each day, so as not to arouse suspicion) and the full-on panic of the holidays has yet to fully descend. There is a peace and thoughtfulness in this season that I want to stretch out into the rest of my year. You see, I used to love November because it led up to December (and thus Christmas) but now I’m coming to appreciate it more for its own merit. As I grow a little older and (hopefully) a little wiser, I am finding connection to a depth of thankfulness I didn’t understand before. I’m realizing that gratitude isn’t about our circumstances or even despite of our circumstances. In fact, it has nothing to do with our circumstances at all!

As a Christian, I can give thanks for one reason alone: my God is King! (Psalm 95:2-3) That’s something that doesn’t change with my immediate surroundings or even with the turmoil of the world I live in. God is good, and worthy of thanksgiving! Just that knowledge alone lifts my heart and helps put everything else into perspective.

As I’m teaching multiplication and reading about the Renaissance with my little ones, I’m conscious that there are even more important lessons to be learned. I desperately want to give them the gift of gratitude and I welcome your suggestions. I want to share one way of doing so by creating a Thanksgiving Tree.

Thanksgiving Tree

This has been one of our favorite traditions that we have come to look forward to. We choose a few branches and display them in a vase. Throughout the next few weeks, we take turns hanging paper leaves on the tree with things we are thankful for written on each one. This is a simple but special tradition we look forward to, and it makes a beautiful centerpiece. At dinnertime, we read some of them and talk about all we have to be grateful for.

I hope your November is peaceful and full of gratitude!

I’m A Grateful Groupie!

By: Shannon Shull

One of my dearest friends that I’ve known since the first grade recently contacted me about starting a “grateful group” on Facebook. She shared a great article with myself and a couple of her other close friends. The article is called “Five Tips for Keeping a Gratitude Journal.” My friend, Michelle, is an accomplished writer and knew that I loved to write too, and she suggested that we start a “being grateful” group as a way of reminding us to look for the good in things. She admitted that most times she has a hard glass half fulltime remembering to be grateful. Maybe within this private Facebook group we could help encourage one another and allow this group to serve as a fabulous reminder to see the good in our lives. I totally agree with her and absolutely loved her idea to start this group! She named it, “Grateful Groupies.” Isn’t that fantastic!?! I absolutely love it.

As humans, we are all too quick to focus on all that is bad in our lives instead of focusing on all the amazing blessings that enrich our lives on a daily basis. The truth is, if all we do is focus on the negative things, or the things we don’t have and want, then that focus will rule our way of thought. Sure, there will always be things we wish were better or easier in our lives, but if we instead focus on fabulous things, the simple day-to-day pleasures, the everyday beauty that surrounds us, the precious gifts of life, health, joy and love, and create goals instead of fuss fests and pity parties, well… Needless to say, it certainly doesn’t hurt to be grateful! We will only lead richer and happier lives if we take notice of the things we are grateful for every day instead of just at Thanksgiving or around the holidays. Let’s make being grateful a daily effort, and we’ll reap the benefits of recognizing the day-to-day loveliness we are blessed with.

I’m proud to say that I am a “Grateful Groupie” and I hope that you’ll consider starting your own grateful group, whether on Facebook, Instagram or email. Whatever the platform, I think it’s a fabulous idea to join with others to declare and recognize the things, no matter how big or small, that we are ever so grateful for. And if you’re not up for joining a group, consider keeping a gratitude journal, similar to the one described in that fabulous article that inspired my friend. Either way, I challenge you to do your best not to let a single day go by without recognizing something that you’re grateful for! 😉 As stated in the article,

“It’s all a gift. In an interview with UC Berkeley’s The Greater Good, gratitude expert and professor Robert Emmons suggests thinking of each item in your journal as a “gift.” In his studies he instructs participants to “Be aware of your feelings and how you “relish” and “savor” this gift in your imagination.” It’s important to think deeply about what it is you’re thankful for, and why.”

So make sure to take notice of and relish all the gifts in your life, no matter how big or small!