I’m currently reading a book called 1,000 Gifts with some neighbor moms. It’s a book about really thanking God for every gift in every moment, whether things are good or bad or ugly. And her point is that she went on a quest to document a thousand thanks. Now, the author, Ann Voskamp, is way too poetic, because somehow she gets giddy as a school girl about the moon, and her cup floweth over after photographing a plate of cheese hit by the sun’s rays “just so.” That’s just not me. But, the idea of documenting gifts as you notice them, and teaching yourself the discipline to seek them out in everyday life, is already proving to be a great takeaway.
One of our group discussions about the book prompted me to say I wanted to start a dinnertime tradition of everyone detailing something for which he is thankful. Someone else chimed in and said her parents keep a jar on the table and they write down what they’re thankful for throughout the year, then pull out all the strips of paper and read them at the end of the year. I decided I wanted to adopt this same principle.
A little more than a week ago we began because I finally found a little paper pack with the right size sheets. (I bought a memo cube at Michael’s that is not sold online or else I’d link it here.) I figure that whenever we eat dinner around our table, we will all share something we’re thankful for and write down at least one thing that’s said (probably we will vote on the best one as the kids get older so we have about 300 each year and not 1,200). We are also writing the date down on the sheet. Then we will put them in chronological order into a notebook at the end of the year.
You could also buy a family journal and just write directly into it. Or if you’re really crafty, you could make a special “Thanksgiving” album and print off relevant photos from the year and include them.
The point of documenting these things is to remind us of how much we do have and how we could never count all of our gifts because there are too many. But I’m also already finding that in doing this, we will essentially be documenting our lives. Right now, Greg and I have to write them all down, but as our children learn to write, this will also become a journal of their handwriting and them maturing. It will also reflect the good times and bad times, but things we treasure despite our circumstances. We had two of our neighbor’s girls over for dinner the other night, and I had them participate, so it will also serve as a guest book of sorts, documenting who we had over for dinner on what dates over the course of our lives.
So far, we’ve documented the following:
8.6.11 We’re thankful God answered our prayers for good weather at Eliza’s birthday party, and Eliza is thankful for baby Liberty.
8.7.11 I’m thankful that you fixed my butterfly wings so I could wear them again. – Eliza
8.8.11 Though we had hoped for Eliza to be born on 8.8.08 because that would have been super awesome, we’re thankful she came a week before that because of how big she was.
8.11.11 I’m thankful for baby Chaaya. – Eliza; I’m thankful for our new art set up and my mommy and daddy protecting me. I just love them SO much. – Adelaide; I’m thankful for Abbey (the dog). Both Abbeys (our dog and her dog). – Sydney
8.12.11 We’re thankful for Greg’s safe return from his work trip, that Zach has figured out how to climb on Greg’s back for a horsie ride, and Eliza is insistent that she is most thankful, again, for baby Chaaya.
8.13.11 We’re thankful that Eliza’s learning to swim.
Just reading a week’s worth of our thanks, written down, brings a smile to my face. It gives me the warm fuzzies. If you have any suggestions on how our family can improve this process, or a similar tradition of your own, please let me know! I don’t think it’s going to take us long to get to 1,000 Gifts.