This year our family began a new tradition. It’s called the Thanksgiving Tree. Every day we write down things we’re grateful for, and hang them on the tree. On Thanksgiving Day, we’ll read them out loud. Then the following day we’ll decorate it for Christmas. More time with our tree, more time to practice gratitude.
This season of Thanksgiving is timely and meaningful for me. I’ve noticed recently that there is a buildup of frustration in me. I think this frustration is coming from my perception that my life feels scarce. Sleep feels scarce. Money feels scarce. Emotional energy feels scarce.
But each day I walk by our Thanksgiving Tree, and think to myself, “What do I have to be grateful for right now?” Every time I consider this, I experience a shift in my soul. My heart expands in awareness of how much I have. I experience joy and contentment. Bitterness and anxiety melt away. I recognize the abundance in my life. I remember that every single good thing I have is a gift and grace from God that I didn’t earn or deserve.
Here are some things I am particularly thankful for right now:
- A growing friendship with my parents. They are really quality people, and I love spending time with them every week.
- Getting to connect with family and friends over FaceTime.
- My husband. He’s my partner in life, and we have it pretty good.
- Great schools and teachers for our kids.
- Our housemate Ryland. We have built-in community with someone who we genuinely love.
- A healthy, functioning body.
- Friends who volunteer to babysit our kids.
- Resources to travel to California to spend time with family for Christmas. With a family of five, this is no small thing.
- My friend Cathy. In our friendship, we share, laugh, cry, and end up better people because of each other.
- A home where we can rest and welcome others.
- My three kids who each add so much love and joy to our family.
- Hugs that are a whole lot more than just a hug.
- A computer, car, and vacuum that all work.
- Our church community of risk-takers and faith adventurers.
- A moment today of quiet stillness.
- Getting to spend time doing what I love. The big pieces of my life – writing, parenting, discipling people – are all things that I want to be doing.