The year is coming to a close. You know the footsteps of Christmas are near when malls (and even your neighbourhood super-mart) start piling their shelves with candy canes, nutcrackers and other Christmasy festive food supplies. Soon Christmas jingles will fill the air and assault us everywhere we turn…frenzied shoppers will congregate at the malls buying gifts with little clue if they would be well-received or recycled the following day/week/year (depending on when the gifts were given and received)…
How easy it is for us to bulldoze through our days without stopping to take stock and give thanks. Even as the year draws to a close, it’s not too late to count all the blessings we received so far, reflect on the good and not-so-good memories and give ourselves a pat for surviving yet another hectic year. Sometimes the challenges seem so insurmountable that I know we could only have made it through by the grace and mercies of God.
We may not celebrate Thanksgiving here but for the month of November and December, I endeavour to set out to list at least 3 things I am grateful for in my life each day. Surely God has been good and I want to end it with a tangible list as we count down to 2013. One of my immediate project is to start a simple ‘Gratitude Journal’ with our 4-year old daughter, Dana.
5 easy steps to start a ‘Gratitude Journal’
1. Choose a journal together.
Shop for a plain journal together at bookstores or scrapbook stores. Or you can also utilize a composition notebook and have your child to personalise it by decorating the cover with stickers or other alphabet embellishments readily available at bookstores or scrapbook stores (I saw a nice selection from PaperMarket).
2. Pick a special writing pen.
Let your child pick out a pen or thin marker specially for this journal. It can be in his/her favourite colour (pink, green, purple, silver – not necessarily blue or black) or one of those fancy metallic/luminous gel pen (which we used to sign on autograph books). A fun fancy pen helps to sustain interest in this project especially for reluctant writers.
3. Read a story about being thankful with your child.
Amazon and Book Depository has a good collection. Stories help to cultivate the language of thanksgiving and a spirit of gratefulness.
4. Lead by example and start out small.
Have a conversation with your child about things they are thankful for in their lives throughout the day. Here are a few prompts to help us get started.
I’m grateful for…the good weather so we can play outdoors! for the rain so I can wear my rainboots…
I thank God/Daddy/Mommy/for…the ice-cream treat! for helping us find a carpark lot…
I appreciate…Daddy driving me to school this morning/Mommy helping me with my craft…
Set aside 10 to 15 minutes to share with your child few things you are thankful for each day. Then it’s his/her turn to share. We do it right before bedtime. For older kids, you may do it at the dinner table or on the car ride to school. Find a time that works best for your family. After sharing, encourage the child to pen down the thanksgiving items in the journal (younger children may need help with spelling). Give them the freedom and option to express their gratitude through drawing if they so prefer.