Each year before we enjoy our Thanksgiving dinner, my family and I take a few minutes to express our thanks from the past year. I always get tears in my eyes, as we talk about kids, health or opportunities or mention someone who is missing from the table. Last year, my then-3-year-old said she was most thankful for her family (cue the waterworks). I want my kids to always remember and appreciate their blessings.
Here are some ideas for encouraging gratitude and thankfulness.
- Volunteer. While my children are a little young for most volunteer activities, I look forward to one day helping others next to my daughters.
- Complete random acts of kindness. Leave a thank-you note for your mail carrier. Bake cookies for an elderly neighbor. Give a gift card to a teacher or daycare provider. In the future, I hope my daughters will write thank-you notes to teachers and others.
- Start a thank-you jar. When you think of something you’re thankful for, write it on a slip of paper and place it in a jar. Read the notes on Thanksgiving.
- Buy extra and give it away. Pick up a few extra non-perishable items and donate them to a food drive, or donate gifts for a toy drive. Last year, we picked an angel off the tree and bought items for an 8-year-old girl. At first, the whole process confused my daughter (she really wanted to meet the girl we bought gifts for), but I hope she started to learn an important lesson.
What do you do with your family? I’d love to learn about (and share) your ideas. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sarah balances life as a reporter for The Times-Tribune and as the mom of two little girls. A graduate of Ithaca College, Sarah started covering education in 2006. She has received awards for her reporting from the Society of Professional Journalists, Pennsylvania Newsmedia Association, Inland Press Association and Pennsylvania Women’s Press Association. She lives in Clarks Summit with her husband, their daughters and their sweet pug, Sadie. Reach her at email@example.com, 570-348-9133 or @HofiusHallTT.