Happy Thanksgiving to readers here in Canada! I thought today would be a great time to share some creative ways to practice gratitude.
Gratitude shouldn’t be taken out and dusted off once a year, it should be a part of daily life. Showing your gratitude and letting people know that you appreciate and value them can really make someones day, and make you feel pretty good too!
As often as you can let people know you are thankful for them.
- Show your gratitude to your spouse and family for all those small things that often go unnoticed.
- Show gratitude when your children are trying to be helpful.
- Show your gratitude to the store clerk who always has a smile for you, or the bus driver who always gets your child to and from school safely.
- Show gratitude frequently, in front of your children and encourage their involvement.
This might feel unnatural at first but the more you practice sharing your gratitude the sooner it becomes second nature.
Gratitude Jar – Activity from “Growing Creative Kids” e-book
Brainstorm with your children all of different people in your lives that you are grateful for and why.
Create a list and cut it into strips put these into a “Gratitude Jar” that your children have helped you decorate.
Select a person each week and work with your children (let them take the lead) to find a creative way of showing your gratitude to that person. You could write a letter, bake a treat, paint a picture, or whatever you are moved to do.
Old-Fashioned Letters (and Life lessons)
Hand written letters, post cards, and care-packages are becoming rarer in the age of instant communication and e-mail. This makes them even more special and a great way to show gratitude to someone. Children of all ages can be involved in creating correspondence – poetry, drawing, art work, jokes, and quotes are all great things to include.
The hardest part, for me, is remembering to send the letters. When I was in elementary school I had written a letter to my uncle telling him how much I loved him and thanking him for always listening to me. I used to sit on his lap for hours as a youngster and talk and talk. He always listened, no matter how long I went on about nonsensical things.
I had the letter all ready to send and just never got around to putting it in the mailbox. A few weeks later I came home to learn he had died, and I never got to send the letter, to let him know how much his actions had meant to me.
It was a tough lesson that I will never forgot and I am much more conscious about the need to tell those around me how much I love and appreciate them on a regular basis. There is no time like today.
Gratitude and Food
Good food inspires gratitude and there almost no better way to show gratitude and appreciation then making something special with your own hands. This is the reason that Thanksgiving dinners, Mother’s Day breakfasts, and celebration desserts make so many great family memories.
In Turkey, food is the most common way of showing gratitude. There is a strong tradition of sharing with your neighbors whatever you have. The doorbell rings and there is your neighbor with a plate of food for you – sometimes just because but most of the time they are saying thank you for something.
I was staying with a Turkish family; the husband was a doctor so we were always getting plates. Most of them were full of tasty desserts, there was the occasional plastic bag of milk – still warm from the cow, and once even a plate of freshly picked and sauteed field mushrooms that where a spectacular shade of green and orange (I was a touch too scared to eat them)
Now the tradition in Turkey is never to return a plate empty, so whenever we baked or made something special we would make extra to bring back to the neighbors. My “Canadian” Banana bread was always a big hit. In Turkey, gratitude is a part of daily life and an attitude I brought home with me.
Baking with kids is a great way to make memories and show your gratitude to others. Kids get such joy and excitement when they get to share their creations with others. Take some homemade bread, cookies, or biscuits to someone you are grateful for and enjoy the resulting smiles and warm feelings from all involved.
Here is my mom’s banana bread recipe which I bake all the time when I want to show my appreciation. It is such a homey, tasty sweet bread and will make your entire house smell fantastic!
“Canadian” Banana Bread (My mom’s recipe)
2 1/4 cups sifted flour
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup butter, room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup mashed, very ripe bananas (2 – 3 medium)
1/2 cup dairy sour cream
1/2 cup walnuts – toasted over low heat in a small dry pan and chop finely
Preheat oven to 350F (177C). Butter and flour a 9″ x 5″ x 2 3/4″ loaf pan.
In bowl, sift and measure flour, sift again with baking soda and salt.
In another small bowl, mix together sour cream and mashed banana.
In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs.
Add sifted dry ingredients alternately with banana and sour cream, mixing just until blended.
Sir in nuts and pour into prepared loaf pan.
Bake 1 hour or until a toothpick inserted in crusty portion of center comes out clean. Remove from pan; cool on rack. Makes 1 loaf.