Saturday, November 3, 2012

A Paper Chain of Gratitude

To start, this week has been an unbelievably difficult one for so many of us.  Whether we are experiencing for ourselves the devastation that is occurring as a result of Hurricane Sandy, supporting friends and family who are in the midst of the disaster, or looking for a way to help as we see image after painful image of the desperate situation unfolding in the Northeast - many of us are physically and emotionally exhausted.  Living in the Southern Tier of New York, we are very thankful that this area was spared from the wrath of Sandy - as many here are still trying to rebuild after the destruction caused by Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee.  Yet, like many of you, it has been difficult to bear the heartache that our friends and family are dealing with only a few hundred miles southeast of us.

For my husband and me, knowing the suffering of those directly affected results in much reflection on the blessings that we have been given.  We want to do something. We've offered support to our own family and friends who are trying to make sense of the chaos they are finding themselves in.  We have gathered items to donate and have contributed to the Red Cross.  We also feel that it is important, especially with Thanksgiving less than three weeks away, that we take time with our son to make sure that he appreciates the simple things that we have and can often take for they can so quickly and easily be lost.  It just feels like this is the best way to take the horrible images we've all been seeing and turn them into something that our little guy can start to understand - emphasizing the importance of being grateful for what we have.

With all of this on my mind, I decided to take a different approach to our Friday night routine.  I try to plan something special on Fridays for our version of Family Fun Night. It's our time to reconnect after crazy weekday schedules and start our weekends with a little silliness. Last night we made Buffalo Chicken Pizza...

and created a Thanksgiving paper chain to count down to Turkey Day. An idea often used as an Advent chain to count down to Christmas, I thought this might be a great way to share our appreciation for our blessings and to take time as a family to consciously give thanks.

As we ate, we counted the days left until Thanksgiving.  Then, after cutting the same number of paper strips, we each took turns writing down things for which we are thankful.  As you can imagine, Lil' Man's first responses were things like "my stuffed animals" and "the Hulk."  Just like in any good brainstorming session, all thoughts were good thoughts, so we included those in our list, but once he heard some of the things that Daddy and Mommy said, he came around with some things that were less extraneous material things and more simple, basic things that we all tend to take for granted.  Of course, my husband's first response was, "I'm so thankful for Family Fun Night," while giving me a sheepish grin.  Again, like in any good brainstorming session, all thoughts were good thoughts, so we included that in our list, too, and eventually both of my boys were on board. ;-)

Here are some pictures of the creation of our Thanksgiving chain:

"Our Home"

"Food to Eat"

Thanks, Honey!  I know you mean it! :)

Finishing touches

Once we were finished gluing our chain, we hung it in our dining room.  Our intention is to take one link off together each night before getting ready for bed.  We'll talk for a few minutes about why we are thankful for the idea of that day.  It also serves as a way for the kiddo to keep track of when he'll see my sister and her of the things that he said he was thankful for having. 

 It's nice to have a tangible reminder of the things we are grateful for - especially when reminded, as we have been once again this past week, of how quickly our lives can change.  I'm sure that this will become a Thanksgiving tradition for us.  Does your family have traditions for this time of year and the start of the holiday season?  Please share other ideas you may have for showing gratitude as a family in the comments below.  I look forward to learning about them!

I am also linking this post to Works for Me Wednesday on We Are THAT Family.  It's a great blog that I've just found!  Be sure to search there for a great read and fun ideas.

1 comment:

  1. As you stated, our thoughts and prayers are with the victims of Hurricane Sandy.

    Family Fun Night is a great idea!


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