A few years ago a woman in one of my accountability groups decided she wanted to create a family dinner ritual. She started by making dinner time a priority. This used to be a haphazard affair in her home and so it took making a lot of changes both for herself and her family to get everyone to sit down at the table together. Once that was in place, she made a commitment to start a dinner time gratitude practice. Each person would go around the table and say something that they were grateful for. She had pre-teens and, as you can imagine, they were resistant to the idea. She was persistent though, making the same commitment week after week, and eventually it caught on.
I thought this was a great idea but I wasn’t sure how it would go over with a 2 year old and a 5 year old. It was funny at first. My youngest didn’t quite understand the concept and when she did catch on she was grateful for things like bubble gum and for about six months straight she was grateful that we had a nice weekend – no matter what day of the week it was. My son was reluctant. He always wanted to go last, and often he would say one or two things to get it over with as quickly as possible.
Fast forward 3 years and we are still at it. Now they often argue about who gets to go first. They also take their sweet time, searching for all the things in the day that they are grateful for. It’s become a little window into their lives. We get to hear about things that happened at school we wouldn’t hear of otherwise. We also get a better understanding of what sticks out to them about the experiences we are having as a family. Far and away the things they are grateful for are rarely things. They most often talk about time together as a family or time with their friends.
I have many gratitude practices. I end every accountability group call or private coaching call with each person saying what they are grateful for today. I keep a journal that asks me to list 3 things I’m grateful for every morning. But this practice with my family is my favorite because we have made a habit out of appreciating each other and the life we share. I love hearing my husband say that he’s grateful for me or something that I’ve done for him or for our family. Especially on those days when I’m exhausted from work, running the kids around, grocery shopping, cooking, and all the rest of it! I love hearing my kids say they are grateful for us and for each other. I’ve learned that my kids notice a lot more than I think they do, that they do appreciate the little and big things that we do for them, and that they have way more to teach me than I have to teach them.
Since today is Thanksgiving, I hope that you will take a moment to let the people you are spending the day with know what you are grateful for and to listen to what they are grateful for, and that you enjoy that sweet moment of connection that it brings.