Thanksgiving is right around the corner. Every year at this time, social media is flooded with posts about being thankful. This is obviously amazing and something to encourage. We should all be thankful for what we have, and Thanksgiving is the perfect time to reflect on those things in our life. But it shouldn’t be the only time of year that we show gratitude. We should be grateful daily! However, we get preoccupied and life passes by so quickly that we often don’t get around to really concentrating on what we have. As a busy parent I totally get it!
As a teacher, each year I do an activity with my students at school. First, I tell them to think of every single thing they are thankful for; and their first instinct is usually their favorite items like xbox, i-phone, clothes, etc. But then I bring them back to reality. I tell them, “What if you woke up tomorrow with only the things you said you were thankful for today?” It forces them to focus more on the important aspects in life, so they start listing things like family, friends, and pets. Some of my more reflective students even mention things like their faith, religion, family heirlooms, and things that some adults may not even realize they really should be saying thanks for, never mind a 10 year old.
Once my students have time to think about what they are grateful for, I hand out a paper that just has the letters A-Z going straight down. They are instructed to write down as many things as they can, that they are thankful for, starting with each letter. I have to say it’s one of my favorite activities of the entire year. I personally fill it out each year as well to really remind myself of all I have been given or worked hard to achieve. I list things that I think we’re all thankful for the most: family, friends, home, vehicles, church, my school/job, and our pets…. just to name a few.
More recently I’ve been thinking of something else I’m truly blessed to have- and it’s not a living being or an object. It’s not really something I’ve focused on being thankful for in the past either. It’s my memories. The things that I’ve been able to do, see, and experience. These memories have molded me into the person I am today. They are something no one else can take away. Memories are like replaying a portion of your life, a movie reel in your mind. They can bring back emotions, thoughts, feelings, and people that may not be around anymore.
I am filled with so much gratitude to have experienced some absolutely amazing things in my lifetime. Stuff I may not have fully realized at the time would mean so much years later. From major events like travelling to tropical islands and meeting celebrities, down to just walking around outside with the best company and having memorable conversations. Both can hold special places in our minds and heart, and can mean just as much looking back.
Memories are truly priceless and definitely something we all need to be thankful for each and every day. I’ve always been a sucker for them, which is probably why I take more pictures than the average person. Unfortunately, memories can be fleeting too (I’ve witnessed this first hand when a family member struggled with Alzheimer’s disease). Our mind is a wonderful thing, but as we age, it gets bogged down with other things and just can’t hold onto all of the memories from our past. So, talking about the most memorable parts of our life, or documenting them, is very important, right along with being thankful for them always. This Thanksgiving, don’t forget to say what you’re thankful for, and be sure to include your memories on that list too. Even better, talk about some of your favorite memories as you spend the holidays with your family and friends. I’m sure they would love to hear your stories and share some of their own. Happy Memory Making and Happy Thanksgiving!