How to keep the THANKS in Thanksgiving

How to keep the THANKS in Thanksgiving

It happens to all of us. In the rush and anticipation of the holiday season we run to the doing of the things.  Lists begin to appear out of nowhere as we figure out how many faces we will be greeting for the holiday, we run to our litany of chores while trying to make sure that we are including the kids and creating special memories for them along the way.    Trust me, it’s not that I want to add ONE MORE thing to the never ending inner mommy-logue that every woman hears but as I start out making my own family traditions for my sweet Lily (age 1.5) it lead me to some interesting thoughts on Thanksgiving and I thought I should share.

1. Be Present. 

​So often we get complacent in our homes.  The people that love you most are often the people that get the least of our manners.  Make ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ part of your daily routine with your family, including your kids.  It breaks my heart when I see a parent ordering their child around as if the kid is paying off some karmic debt for being born into the family.  If you want a thankful child, be a thankful parent. Remember to be gracious to your partner, too.

2. Be Thoughtful and Thankful

Gratitude is a muscle. If we aren’t practicing we aren’t growing!  Ask your children what they are thankful for every night for the month and let them express what they find to be grateful for…and then actually hear them. Engage them in conversation about the things that they are thankful for and ask questions like ‘how does that make you feel?’ and ‘what can you do to show how thankful you are?’

3. Give concrete examples.

At dinner, you can play the Rose and Thorn game, where the person whose turn it is to speak holds a rose and tells about one rose (a good thing) and one thorn (a challenging thing). A metaphor like the rose helps children develop gratitude even when things aren’t going their way. Keeping the rose in a vase all week serves as another reminder of coping with natural ups and downs.

4. Practice what you preach

When you are out with your kids and engaging with people outside of your home remember to show your gratitude at every opportunity.  Start a revolution of good manners! Encourage your child to leave a thank you note for the waitress, teachers, and friend’s parents! Keep a stash of thank you cards somewhere your child care access or make a date for THANK YOU night and make a slew of thank you notes to send out into the world.

5. Make Volunteering a Family Tradition

Find opportunities for your child to donate participate and offer their talents to those less fortunate in a way that ties them to an emotional experience.  It is one thing to send a check (especially if it’s mommy and daddy’s money) but giving them a chance to go and see the difference they are making can leave an impression that lasts a life time.  Make sure you do it in a way that honors the recipient, please! I can remember a co-worker from my early twenties who was incredibly blessed in her personal and professional life who had two of the cutest kids you can ask for. At lunch one day she was bragging about how she had taken her children to donate some of the toys they had outgrown.  She told us that she wanted to be sure her children understood what was happening so she refused to leave until the staff at the shelter they were donating to went and scooped up a couple children to come and thank her children personally. THIS IS NOT THE WAY TO DO IT.

6. Create a Keepsake

When your children sit down to make their wish list for the season ask them to make a list of Gratitude.  Have them list all of them intangible things that they are already receiving like ‘hugs from my brother’ and ‘Family Game Night’.  Use these items to create a yearly monument to the blessings that your family shares that didn’t come with a price tag.

7. Count your blessings

In that last moment you have with your babies before they (hopefully) drift off to sleep remind them why you are thankful for them. List three things a night that make you feel blessed to have them. You are their best example for a grateful life and attitude.

Ok- now go be grateful for a glass of wine, you earned it!