Usually, at just about this time of year, most of us are excitedly looking forward to the rapidly approaching holiday season. You might be starting to work on your gift list, (or finishing it, if you’re one of those rare unicorns who actually manages to complete these types of things ahead of time, while successfully caring for young children… if that’s you, are you giving lessons? Asking for a friend…) Maybe you would normally be preparing for a large gathering of family and friends, complete with a feast that could feed an army. Or perhaps you would be planning a sweet and simple season at home, complete with hot chocolate in front of a fireplace, and holiday movies on the TV. Maybe this is your first year with a new little addition to the family, and you’ve been looking forward to creating some brand new family traditions with them.
Whatever you envisioned for this season, I’m guessing it probably didn’t involve a global pandemic, or really anything this crazy year has thrown at us!
2020 definitely threw us a curveball, and although it’s almost Thanksgiving, it may seem pretty difficult to find many things to be grateful for right now. Although it’s definitely more challenging than normal, it’s actually more important this year than ever to practice gratitude. Studies have linked gratitude with increased physical and mental health (something that I’m sure we could all benefit from right now!) Time Magazine lists 7 benefits of practicing gratitude: (Ducharme, 2017)
- It can make you more patient.
- It can improve your relationship with your partner.
- Gratitude increases levels of self care.
- You might get a better and longer sleep.
- Practicing gratitude can help keep you from overeating.
- It can improve symptoms of depression.
- Unlike instant gratification, regularly practicing gratitude creates a sustainable, long term form of happiness.
Those are some pretty significant results! So although it may be difficult at times, I want to challenge you to be intentional about finding just one thing per day that you are thankful for. Even if it is something small, practicing thankfulness for all the little things is just as important as it is for the big things.
One fun way to make gratitude a daily ritual, and involve your whole family in it too, is to create a “Thankfulness Pumpkin”. I have been doing this with my husband and daughter daily throughout the whole month of November and plan to continue working on our pumpkin until the end of the month.
I initially got the idea to create a Gratefulness Pumpkin from a Pin on CECPTA’s Pinterest board, @carrolltonecpta, by blogger Nicole, @CoffeeandCarpool.
Check out her article here.
First, let me start off by saying that my pumpkin did not turn out anything like the gorgeous one in her blog. If ever there was an example of a Pinterest Fail, this was it! Before we wrote on it, I decided at the last minute to paint our pumpkin white, thinking it would match my decor better. Unfortunately, the only white paint I had on hand was my daughter’s big jar of washable Crayola paint. At this point, partly because I am impatient, and partly because I wanted to start our new tradition on November 1st, the next day, I decided that “Surely it can’t turn out too badly, right”? Famous last words.
Initially, I had to do several layers of paint, because the paint kept clumping up as it dried. Once it was finished, although it didn’t quite have the nice smooth finish I intended, I was out of time to redo it, because I had already promised my daughter we would start writing on it in the morning, so I decided to just move ahead with it, as is.
Unfortunately, when we began to write what we were thankful for, the Sharpie started to take the paint off as we wrote. This definitely wasn’t the picture perfect, Instagram worthy pumpkin I had in mind. At first, I was pretty disappointed. But then, as I watched my daughter happily drawing the things she was thankful for on it, I realized it didn’t actually matter what it looked like, as long as we were enjoying quality time together creating a new tradition, counting our blessings, and teaching our daughter how to practice gratitude. Now we look forward to writing on our “Thankfulness Pumpkin” every day, and my daughter even reminds me about it, if I sometimes forget.
Now I want to encourage you to try making your own Thankfulness Pumpkin this season! Alternatively, if a pumpkin just isn’t your thing, or you’re looking for a year-round project, you could create a gratitude journal with your family, or simply add what you are grateful for to your daily calendar. Not a fan of writing or journaling? Just tell each other what you’re thankful for every day over breakfast, or while getting ready for bed! Whatever you choose, just be intentional about incorporating this practice into your daily routine. If you make it a habit to look for your blessings, it will become second nature and you’ll probably find that you have more to be thankful for than you realized.
I’m personally realizing that I have so much more to be thankful for than I could possibly fit onto one pumpkin. I’m looking forward to continuing this daily ritual in some way, long after we’ve run out of room to write, or the paint chips off of our pumpkin a little more and more each day until it’s no longer readable (Yes, that is the current situation with our pumpkin, why do you ask?)
This season, I’m thankful for time with my family, for a chance to focus on and become more aware of all my blessings, and for learning to be more intentional with my time, especially with my daughter and husband. I’m so thankful for our health, for friends, and for traditions both old and new. I’m thankful for CECPTA. And, I’m thankful for pumpkins.
Especially the “ugly” ones.
Ducharme, J. (2017, November 20). 7 Surprising Health Benefits of Gratitude. Time Magazine. Retrieved November 16, 2020, from https://time.com/5026174/health-benefits-of-gratitude/
About the Author
Amber Gorski has been a member of CECPTA with her daughter since 2018 and is in the purple playgroup. She has served on the CECPTA Board as the Children’s Programming Chair and is currently the Publicity Chair. She is the gal behind the scenes of our social media handles and the hashtag queen. When she is not doing activities with the PTA, she enjoys spending time with her husband, daughter and their three fur-babies. She also enjoys doing embroidery, making jewelry and finding fun crafts to do with her daughter.