What comes to your mind when daylight savings time ends? When the leaves start turning color and falling off the trees.. and when the weather turns chilly? (Yes, even in Southern California, it gets chilly and leaves actually do fall off trees here…) Seasonal changes are FANTASTIC! And I’m not talking just pumpkin lattes and ugg boots here…
When you think about “Thanksgiving”, what pops into your head? Pilgrims and Native Americans? Pumpkin pie? Cranberry sauce and Mashed potatoes? What do you think of when you hear the word “Gratitude”? Do you still think of pumpkin pie and pilgrims, or do you maybe think a little deeper?
We have a “Gratitude Jar” in our home. This jar, and it’s tradition, started out by pure accident. Initially, the actual jar was a hideous thing someone gave me as a gift. It matched nothing in my home at the time. But it was a gift. Aren’t we supposed to be grateful for those?? For a couple of years, I kept it, and started calling it a “Gratitude Jar”, mostly because it was my own internal exercise to focus on the thoughtfulness of the gift and not so much the “thing” that it was.
At some point, my kids and I started to put notes inside of it, just random little thoughts of what we were grateful for. Friends and family that visited were invited to write something that they were grateful for, and place it in the jar, too.. And somewhere along the way, we started reading the collection of these beautiful notes at Thanksgiving.
With great ceremony and reverence, my girls and I would read out loud together those precious notes we’d accumulated all year long. Some were truly funny, some were sweet, some even made drops of water leak out of my eyeballs. Over time, we found that we’d all come to treasure that darn jar, despite its ugly design.
Last year, I accidentally knocked that jar off the shelf, and it smashed into a gagillion sharp pointy jagged pieces. I felt TERRIBLE! And the girls were actually mad at me! As I cleaned up the pieces, I realized… originally, I’d seriously hated the look of this thing… but somewhere in my gratitude exercise, my perspective had changed! I don’t know when it happened, but I had honestly come to love “the jar”… and now, without it, I felt like a tradition or positive mind-set practice was now over. It almost felt like something important had just died.
I picked up all the notes that had been inside the jar, which were now strewn all over the floor, along with the shattered and broken pieces of ceramic. No, there was no saving the jar, as there were just too many pieces to glue back together (yes, I had seriously considered the old Brady Bunch glue-it-back-together-lamp idea for a second…) Since there was clearly no way to salvage the jar, I bundled the notes together and put them all in an envelope and stuck them in a drawer. A few weeks passed. I didn’t completely forget about the jar, or being grateful, but I didn’t go out of my way to acknowledge my gratitude on a regular basis, as I had been doing with the jar. I actually began to feel myself shift a little on the inside, and I did not like that feeling. At all.
Then out of the blue, while shopping for something completely unrelated… there I was in the store… and there “IT” was.. a gorgeous, glittery, gloriously spectacular JAR. I swear it said “Psst.. hey girl, here I am”.. It honestly felt like my heart smiled, and the clouds parted, and rays of sunshine beamed right onto this jar.. I think I may have even heard some angels sing! A new gratitude jar had found me. And she.. was.. BEAUTIFUL!!
This new jar was immediately filled with the notes I’d previously stashed away in that envelope. It now sits in a prominent space right in my entryway, where it’s one of the first things everyone sees when they walk in. I believe that the great experience (and then subsequent absence) with the first gratitude jar made me reeeeeeally appreciate this new one all the more. While it is pretty to look at, and it matches the decor much better in my home, it’s really whats on the inside of this jar, and what it represents, that I love most about it. And whats in this particular jar spills out into my home all year long, maybe not physically, but it’s importance and deeply powerful meaning influences our family in a very tangible way that we all feel.
I know, this jar is just a “thing”… but what it represents makes me truly happy on the inside. Today is November 6th. In just a few very short weeks we will empty this jar again, and read out loud the lovely messages that fill it up. I truly LOVE this tradition! And then the cycle will begin again, filling up the jar with happy, wonderful, spectacular notes of gratitude, to be read and shared and cherished next year. Time marches on, right?
May your own home always be filled with beauty, blessings, pure joy, and the spirit of Gratitude. (Get a jar, and start your own tradition, trust me!!). I am truly blessed and sincerely grateful for each and every one of you reading this blog. … May the change of seasons fill your lives and hearts with abundance, joy, and happy blessings. Happy Thanksgiving, y’all!
Oh hey – What Thanksgiving traditions does your family have? Do y’all have a gratitude jar or some other really cool family tradition? I’d love to hear about your family rituals or the activities your family does to show gratitude together!!