Revised: Please CLICK HERE (my current blog) for more about this wonderful tradition :).

…we began a new Thanksgiving tradition this year. And although it wasn’t quite what I had planned for it to be, it turned out just fine.

We have a “Thankful Box”. In it, over the course of the previous year (I bought it last December), we were supposed to write things for which we were thankful. I instructed our children to write a little note whenever they felt thankful for something–a good grade on a test, something related to sports, not getting in trouble for something they should have (sneaky, aren’t I?), whatever a kid is thankful for. Tad and I were supposed to write “thankful notes”, too. Then, at Thanksgiving, we’d have a great unveiling (unboxing??) and read all the gems stored over the past year.

Well, if I’m anything, it is definitely the Queen of Good Intentions. It’s good to be “queen” of something, right?

Although I’d nag about mention it from time to time, I did little to encourage the children to record how thankful they were, and I certainly didn’t model it for them. This being said, they ARE grateful children–at least in their early training, I was intentional about cultivating an attitude of thankfulness towards others. Pretty much, if anyone does ANYTHING for them, they’ll say “thank you” without being prompted. See? THAT’S something I should’ve recorded, that’s something for which I am VERY thankful. I’m not proud of this, but if I do something special for a child (heck, an adult!) who’s not my own, I notice it if they don’t acknowledge it; I don’t hold it against them, it doesn’t make me mad, and I never do anything in order to be thanked, I’m just saying gratefulness is a lovely character trait, and I notice it when it is–and isn’t–present.

One September night before dinner, I plopped the Thankful Box in the center of the table. Their ticket to leave the table was to write a note…at least by Thanksgiving (in my idyllic-albeit-delusional world, sitting around our Norman Rockwell-painting-worthy table) we’d have ONE thankful memory to share. They obliged me. Everyone wrote something, folded it, and stuck it in the box.

Fast forward to the week of Thanksgiving. By now, the only person excited about the box was Thomas. Apparently, filled with gratitude at some point, he stuffed the box FULL of his thoughts, and he wanted everyone to know how superior he is to us that he’s the best brown-noser in the family HE took my challenge seriously . The rest of us, well…we knew it was a bust.

But, manipulator fixer that I am, I was gonna redeem that little red treasure box, by golly, if it stinkin’ killed me! So, when my brother, sister and her family arrived, I explained writing a “thankful note” would be their ticket into Thanksgiving Dinner. They were happy to cooperate, probably because they really were thankful we weren’t swarming their homes and requiring them to cook a 14-course meal.

I began to sense momentum. There were now players for my little contrived game. And as I cooked and cooked and cooked, they wrote and wrote and wrote. My heart swelled like the Grinch’s at Christmas.

After lunch, it was T I M E. We began by reading a poem I wrote last year, written from the Thankful Box’s point of view, explaining its raison d’être . My brother-in-law thought it was trite–everyone needs someone like this around to keep you grounded. As the boxed was passed around the table again and again and again, we took turns reading and guessing who had said it. Evidently, everyone’s a comedian or a philosopher in my family, or “wannabes” of either or both. We laughed…a lot…so, regardless of what anyone thought about this revamp of counting your blessings, in spite of the mocking and ridicule I endured, even the most cynical in my family would have to agree it was worth it in the end.

Do you have to guess who that would be?

Just now, I went downstairs, opened the box and re-read every note. Wow. In the quiet of this moment, I realized what I intended for “fun”, an exercise in frivolity and flippancy, actually means something. Whether warming my heart or tickling my funny bone, these words just became precious to me. At the time, by God, I was just going to make “something” happen. And it did. Only two weeks AFTER the fact.

The following will probably bore you out of your gourd, but I gotta write some of these down…(say it with me)…so I won’t forget.

I am thankful for…

(Outta the mouths of babes, remembering that little things matter, too)
toothpaste and toothbrushes
pens and pencils
my bed!
music (multiple entries)
a warm house
a house that blocks out cold (these two remind me not everyone has this 🙁 )
yummy food

(Cleanliness is next to godliness? Again, those little things…I’m seeing a pattern here)
running water

Letting me play basketball when I’m no good
Adults who really listen to you
The ability to walk, talk, smell, breathe, hear, taste, feel
Life “now”, life “later
That Pop hasn’t died yet :/ 🙁 🙂
Encouraging words (I didn’t write this one, but I could have 😉 )
that I have multiple things for which to be thankful

(Just plain bizarre or getting REALLY real)
Regular bowel movements
All my fingers
my golf clubs

(Common and “expected” responses)
A supportive family
a good family (suck ups)
Loving parents, brother and sister–that was Stephen’s one and only…he missed the flurry of activity of everyone else, although I have no idea how; he was self conscious he only had one, but dang it was sweet, it was his “ONE” from September.
the love from my family
opportunity to make happy memories with family
Aussie and Callie
crazy cousins
good health
beautiful weather

(A few more from my kids)
FALL! (How can you say this after the “leaf” comments??)
great teachers
my school (again, suck-ups…your teachers won’t be reading this!)

(On a spiritual note)
God’s gracoiusness
a loving God
wonder and beauty of Creation
to love and be loved — guess this one could be categorized in a few places…
for letting me run a 60-yard TD (for Thomas, this WAS spiritual!)

(No doubt who these two came from 😉 )
VERY thankful my kids “get” my sense of humor and they have a GREAT one themselves 😀
love hearing R, T & S helping each other with homework … playing and laughing together … and just talking

(This was originally posted 12/06.)

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