Happy Thanksgiving {a playlist}

I made this playlist just for you. (Really, I made it for me, because we have to drive some distances with our kids in the car in the next few days, and we need real music to keep us from going crazy. But I’m sharing it with you for your traveling, or your turkey basting, or your pie baking, or your pajama dance party, or whatever you’re up to.)

Happy Thanksgiving. I’m grateful for you. Thanks for sharing the journey with us.
gratitude, practicing gratitude, thankful tree, thanksgiving

A tree full of thanks

There was a tree visible under there at one point.

As part of our gratitude practice this season, we have been adding leaves to a Thankful Tree. Every evening at dinner time, we each choose a leaf and write on it something for which we are grateful. After dinner, we share the leaves and add them to our tree.

Today, our tree is nearly invisible under all of the bright-colored leaves that represent our blessings. It has been a great gift to take that moment each day to talk with each other about the things that make us feel blessed…and I love how my children now ask each other, “What are you thankful for?” and “Is it time to do our leaves?”

Some of my favorites from our list this year:

Our friends (especially Katie Beth, Mark and Andrew, who are on our tree many, many times!)
A job, even when it is frustrating
Sneakers (Nora’s favorites)
Ice Skating (none of my kids have ever been ice skating, but just the idea of it apparently inspires gratitude)
My family
Schlag (which is so much better than whipped cream!)
Our church
George, the best husband and dad (and we can add “best schlag maker” to that list)
Jesus and God (Sam again)
Myself (that one’s from Lucy)
Our car and the fact it has heat in it (that’s Sam’s)
Glue sticks (Nora)
All the things (Lucy again)
My children are onto something. It is finding little, everyday things for which we are grateful and expressing thanks for them that produces a thankful heart. Our Thankful Tree has been an opportunity to practice gratitude as a family…and I’m grateful for that.
I’m planning to write down everyone’s answers in a notebook and repeat this activity next year. It was easy to incorporate into our life and really set the tone for a season of grateful thinking.
I am also grateful for each of you who comes here to read my words and to share yours with me.
Happy Thanksgiving. 
And don’t forget to enter the giveaway for a copy of Feast! by Daniel and Haley Stewart or a copy of The Legend of Saint Nicholas by Demi. Either one would be a wonderful addition to your library, whether you are new to celebrating the Christian year at home or have been doing it for years already. Just leave a comment on the Surviving Our Blessings Facebook page telling us about your favorite Advent tradition (or one you’d like to start).

Advent, gratitude, thanksgiving

Defiant gratitude

I’m sharing at CatholicMom today about sitting in the dark and waiting for the light to show up. Sometimes, being grateful is not easy. Especially this time of year, when everything is all bright and color-splashed and merry-filled and holly jolly, it can be tough to coax gratitude from a heart that is burdened with sorrow.

Sometimes, sitting in the dark is our act of thanksgiving. Sometimes, sitting in the dark and confessing Jesus as Lord of all of it, even the worst parts, is revolutionary. In the dark, surrounded by our fears and worries, we are waiting for the One who can make us whole again.

If this is a tough time for you or someone you know (and chances are, you know someone who is struggling with a heavy load right now), this is the post for you.

Blessed day-before-Thanksgiving to you.