•    30 Days of Thanks – Wrap Up   

    As we taped our final post-it note on our 30 Days of Thanks calendar that has proudly hung in our kitchen all month, my 6-year old daughter suggested that we create the same thing for December. I was so touched by her suggestion, but as she explained further, I laughed inside. She explained that for December we could create a new, but very similar board, and instead of listing what we are thankful for, every day we would list an item we want for Christmas! Who can’t chuckle at the eagerness of a child with visions of gifts under the tree, letters to Santa and sometimes, real struggles with the desire to receive, more than the desire to give.

    For our home and our family, we embrace the presents and letters to Santa, but we also try to promoting giving and sharing with others – not just at Christmas, but all year long. We celebrate Santa and we also celebrate the birth of Christ and the power of this event – each day of the year. Christmas is more than a month on the calendar or a season in time. Christmas is love in action, goodwill towards men, and the celebration of the birth of God’s own son.

    Children are beautiful, bright and always ready with a new idea, even if that idea comes in the form of a daily Christmas wish-list. I am grateful for the gift of children that I have been so fortunate to mother. I have treasured learning about my daughters as we talked daily about what we happen to be most thankful for that evening. I also know that our children see their parents as teachers and observe our behaviour – even when we would rather them not be watching. Life is full of days when gratitude comes easily and days when gratitude is far from our minds, and as we turn the calendar to December, I embrace the little souls in our kitchen dreaming of presents, stockings and sweet treats from Santa. I also pray that my encouragement to embrace giving and living with a grateful heart will trickle into our Christmas memories and even into the hearts that are awaiting Santa’s arrival on Christmas eve.

  •    The Gift of Gratitude   

    Maybe I just got lucky. Maybe God chose to bless me with a happy heart. Maybe the challenges in my life are far less than the joys. Maybe all of these are true, and maybe not.

    Living a life with gratitude is something I do my best to embrace. I love living with a thankful heart not because of what it does for others, but for what it does for me. Living with gratitude is a simple decision that often requires a renewed commitment daily, especially on those days that are filled with negativity, a negativity we often eagerly create. I am a happier mom, wife, daughter, sister, friend and neighbor when I seek the good in others, my circumstances, and myself.

    Living with gratitude is never limiting, it is simply a choice that gives us freedom to smile at strangers in the grocery store, hug a friend, or send a card to someone feeling down. Being thankful for what we have will never hinder our growth, or our ability to achieve our dreams. It will allow us to embrace the everyday and to be glad in the simple gifts held in the precious present. Living with a grateful spirit doesn’t require any formal training, a high-level degree or any amount of skill. Living thankfully simply requires an attitude of gratitude. Being grateful just feels good.

    Another year will soon come to a close and as the 34th Thanksgiving holiday that I have celebrated comes alive in our home, I give thanks for the gift of a grateful spirit. I am better, richer, and stronger because of this gift, and today I cheer, Happy Thanks Giving!

  •    30 Days of Thanks   

    Living a life with gratitude is not easy, and is not necessarily encouraged in our society. Our world is busier than ever, and there is encouragement to strive, seek, and become more all around us. Living with gratitude each day is a choice that comes from within, regardless of circumstances, and regardless of what challenges may be around the corner. Life is a gift. Your life. My Life. Each life.

    If we choose to open our eyes to the wonder, the beauty, and the treasure of each magical moment, we can experience grace and peace. It is also in our times of struggle that we experience grace through the love of others supporting us, our faith in God, and our connection to those who struggle with us.

    Although I do live with a spirit of thankfulness and appreciation, I often need reminders to live gratefully, especially when I feel frustrated, or frazzled. Stress and feelings of lack can also arise when we feel beaten down by the actions of others. Seeking gratitude gives us the freedom to forgive others, to embrace our own lives, and to depend less on an event, person or outcome to give us happiness. We can only control our own behavior, but we can always control our attitude.

    This year, as Thanksgiving draws near, our family is enjoying 30 Days of Thanks in our kitchen, which is an easy and fun way for us to live gratefully as a family, to give thanks, and to laugh a little as we share each day something we are thankful for. Children learn what they live. I feel blessed, honored and quite humbled to be a mom and teacher for our two young daughters. To be given a life to shape, and influence, and then release that life when it reaches adulthood is truly a magnificent gift. Although I am never a perfect parent, I do know that I try my best and fully embrace the gift of motherhood, and for that, I give thanks.