An Inexpensive Way to Make Gratitude Visible
Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about gratitude. There’s so much in my life to worry about. I’m worried about finding a job, paying bills, raising my children, health issues, making the holidays perfect, affording gifts for my kids… it doesn’t stop. I was focusing on all the bad stuff. All the stuff that is scary and harmful.
I went to confession (yeah, I’m Catholic) because this despair and sorrow was heavy on my heart. My penance was to say a prayer of gratitude and reflect on the blessings I have. Something clicked in my brain; I’m reflecting on all the wrong things. I have so much to be grateful for and I need to focus on those blessings.
I try to take time every day and say thank you for something in my life. There are days when it’s not easy. Days when my kids drew on the walls while I peed. Days when I get yet another job rejection. But there must have been something good in the day, something I can thank God for.
A Family Habit of Gratitude
As I focus on being grateful in my life, I encourage my family to be grateful, too. I encourage small things, like thanking the person who made dinner for cooking. I thank my husband for loading dishes from the dinner he didn’t eat into the dishwasher. (He works the dinner shift, so he doesn’t eat dinner with us.) I encourage my daughter to say thank you when she sees me doing housework. (She doesn’t notice most of the work I do, but every once in a while she notices me working and thanks me. It makes my day.)
Thanking each other brings us closer as a family. When I know that the people I work so hard for every day appreciate what I do, it makes the work easier.
A little foam and a little flurry
I love snowflakes. I’m freaking obsessed with them. I put snowflake decorations up in November and keep them up until the snow melts. And in Wisconsin, that might just be March or April. I had a snowflake themed wedding. My favorite wine glass is painted with snowflakes.
To keep with my snowflake obsession, last year I received a bunch of snowflake goodies. My parents gave me snowflake stickers, cupcake liners, lights, and more. One of the snowflake gifts I got was a pack of large foam snowflakes. When I received them, I had no idea how I would use them, but I knew I would find something. My pack had 3 colors; dark blue, light blue and white.
As I was saying my prayer of gratitude, it hit me. There are things in my past and present that I’m grateful for. There are things in my future I’m hopeful for. Past, present, future. I had a purpose for the snowflakes and another way to encourage gratitude in my family.
A Flurry of Gratitude Activity
- 3 colors of foam snowflakes
- clear fishing line or jewlery thread
- Decide which colors will represent past, present, and future. I wanted to keep my future bright, so that is white, present is light blue and past is dark blue.
- Split the snowflakes so everyone has the same number. (Or close; my husband, daughter and I had two of each color. My son — who doesn’t talk yet — had only one of each color). Consider using any leftover flakes for the family.
- On the “past” flakes, write A happy memory is. On the “present” flakes, write Today, I am grateful for. On the “future” flakes, write I am hopeful for.
- Have each person complete the sentences. You may need to help young kids think through the answers or write them on the flakes. Also, have each person write their name on the back.
- To make the flurry effect, tie the fishing line around the snowflakes, then hang from the ceiling. You can punch holes in the flakes, or just tie the string around one end of the flake. To keep the slick string from sliding out of the tape on the ceiling, I tied a loop at the end and put tape through the loop. Make sure to cut the fishing line at different lengths to give an uneven flurry effect.
I hung the flakes over the dining room table. It’s a place where we won’t bonk our heads on them, so it’s practical in that way. But it’s more than that; we’re reminded of what we’re grateful for every time we sit down for a meal together.
Once we finished making the flakes, we said a little prayer of thanksgiving. We didn’t use a prewritten prayer; we just thanked God for the blessings in our lives.
What are you thankful for? What would be on your snowflakes?