I love November because it means Thanksgiving. It means counting blessings and celebrating grace.
Lately, I’ve also been reflecting on the idea that we are what we practice, and I realized that I want to start practicing more gratitude. I sometimes fall into the trap of wanting instead. I’ll watch a home renovation show or go to someone’s lovely home and suddenly I have a major case of house envy. But when I reflect on the most magical moments in my life, it’s not the house that matters. In fact, the most special Thanksgiving I’ve ever had took place in a trailer park.
It was the year we were living in Moscow, Idaho while my dad was in graduate school. We moved out of our comfortable house in Walla Walla and into a mobile home, because that was housing option that wouldn’t put my parents in debt. I’m sure it wasn’t easy for them, but they never let on. That November, my dad had two huge projects to complete for school, and he needed to stay close to home and the campus library. So, for the first time we didn’t make the trek over the mountains to visit my grandma. It was just the four of us for Thanksgiving, and we were without our customary traditions and many of our belongings.
As my dad studied, my mom took my brother and me on an adventure to collect natural treasures for the table to keep us entertained. I remember the game of gathering brightly colored maple and ginko leaves, speckled rocks, pinecones, and sprays of rosehips. When we got home, we washed and dried them and put them in a basket in the middle of the table, and told stories of gratitude around that centerpiece.
Since then, I’ve spent Thanksgivings at gorgeously decorated tables with Champagne basted Turkeys, and on the beaches of Poipu with a cocktail in my hand, but that one still stands out. I think it’s because it was the first time that I realized you could create exactly what you want just by being thankful.
Like my own mom, I’m always looking for ways to rekindle that spirit in myself and impart it in my own kids. So this month, I’ve decided to use this memory as inspiration to start a daily gratitude practice that I can do with my family. And, of course, you can use exactly what you have. Here are some ideas:
Gratitude Jar or Box:
Get a mason jar or a small box. I had some cute boxes left over from a Birch Box subscription worked well. If you want, you or your kids could also decorate the box to make it special. Cut out strips of paper and write one thing you are grateful for on a slip of paper and put it in your container each day. At the end of the month the box will be filled, and you could even scatter them on the table as a centerpiece.
For those who want a digital option, try the free app Grateful. Each day it will send you a prompt and you can type in your answer and take a photo to go with it. It saves each entry to create a digital Gratitude journal.We’ve decided to do our gratitude practice over dinner because it is the one time of day we all sit down together. Find a time that works best for you.
I hope this post inspires your November! Please share this post with friends by email or social media (click the icons below). Already have a gratitude practice? Post in the comments below, or email me. I’d love to hear from you!