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The Gift of Grateful

Like many people, I love this time of the year. Cozy fires in the fireplace, phenomenal food, and spending quality time with loved ones. Above all else, this time of year I live for the holiday traditions—decorating the tree, grandpa dressing up as Santa the night before Christmas, and roasting chestnuts (not to eat really, but more just to say that we did!). Last year a good friend who is brilliant with all things kids-related got me started with a new holiday tradition: a DIY Gratitude Tree.

Thankfully, she kept it simple for me (anyone that knows me knows that I am decidedly NOT crafty) - a small tin pail, a few branches, pieces of paper and string were all this project required. Each morning, I ask my 4 year old son Max what he’s grateful for. He also gets to pick out his baby brother’s ‘Grateful’, and sometimes he gets greedy and tells me what I’m grateful for too. His gratefuls are quite varied, from ‘my friends’ and ‘mommy’ to ‘octopuses’, ‘velociraptors’, and ‘shoebill storks’. But usually once or twice a week he simply can’t decide and tells me in a slow, dramatic tone that he’s grateful for ‘Eeeeeeverything. Aaaaaaallll the things, Mama!’

His enthusiasm and spirit remind me of how much we have to be grateful for. Even in a pandemic, even in what has probably been the weirdest year of the century, our lives are richly and abundantly blessed. And when I focus on what I’m grateful for, I find the rest of my life has a way of…coming into focus. Last year this new family tradition was intended only for the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving, but instead, it lasted all year long.

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