As I wrote last year, I firmly believe that Thanksgiving is more than a meal with Turkey. In 2014, our family placed an extra focus on gratitude during the month of November. Our son and I filled out gratitude calendars. It was amazing to hear how our 4-year-old son could verbalize what he was thankful for and to also hear him do it with far more variation than I expected.
October was a busy month, filled with a rotation of colds and coughs, apple picking, bonfires, fun activities, a trip to Maine to visit family and rejoice at the wedding of our nephew, and culminated with the return to Minnesota and the celebration of our son’s fifth birthday. It was a whirl-wind.
In fact, October was so busy that I feel like November snuck up on me. I woke up this morning in a day-light-savings haze and realized it was ALREADY November. We were already one day behind!
There are 23 days until Thanksgiving, 52 days until Christmas, and 59 days until New Years Day.
Our plan for 2015 is similar to last year, only we will practice gratitude from now until 2016. If we had started yesterday, it would be an even 60 days, but 59 will have to do. Perhaps next year I will be a little more proactive.
Instead of the gratitude calendar we made and used last year, we are going to try a gratitude tree. I’m excited to go out and find the ‘tree’ this week, but in the meantime, we’ll record our gratitude on little notes to hang when the tree is ready. I can’t wait to share it with you!
It may have to be a big tree to support our family’s notes for 60 days! Perhaps we need one per person…
So, what does it mean to practice gratitude for 60 days?
Let’s start with defining practice and gratitude according to the Merriam Webster Online Dictionary.
prac·tice (verb): perform (an activity) or exercise (a skill) repeatedly or regularly in order to improve or maintain one’s proficiency. carry out or perform (a particular activity, method, or custom) habitually or regularly.
grat·i·tude (noun): the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness.
In essence, we are choosing to develop the quality of being thankful by practicing it repeatedly through the New Year. With the busy-ness of the holiday season, it is easy to get caught up in To-Do lists, and all kinds of good activities. Although the season is fun, filled with family and friends and twinkling lights, sometimes we lose sight of just how much we have already, because we are focused on what we have to DO.
By focusing on what and who we are thankful for, we create a pattern of reflecting on what we already have. We will more readily see the blessings in life despite and through our circumstances, and more easily and habitually GIVE THANKS to others. From experience, the effect is uplifting, joyful, and WORTH IT.
And why would we do this?
Because we have MUCH to be thankful for.
We have MANY people to thank.
We have a Lord who deserves ALL our gratitude and praise.
We will strive to emulate a passage of scripture that is very dear to my heart:
Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. – 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18