My wife and I work hard to make sure our children are not ungrateful brats (some days are better than others). In today’s world, where self-centeredness prevails, it is often difficult to make them understand the importance of being thankful on a regular basis. Gratitude is not natural. It must be cultivated. That’s why we created The Thankful Box.
The Thankful Box is cheerfully decorated and sits on our kitchen counter in plain view. Throughout the year, each family member is required to write down reasons why they are thankful and place the slips in the box.
The simple step of writing down things they are thankful for helps my kids (and me) to develop an attitude of gratitude. Not only do they write down the big things, but they also reflect on the small things that they are thankful for every day.
On Thanksgiving, we gather around the kitchen table for the grand opening of The Thankful Box. I pull out the slips and read them aloud. These tiny notes help to remind us of the blessings we’ve experienced throughout the year. We always laugh and have a good time as we reminisce and share thanks with one another.
My daughter filled the box with school-related things. She just started middle school this year and I was glad to see that she had several things to be grateful for.
My older son wrote mostly about his appreciation for his family. His heart is filled with love and it’s always a joy to see his expressing it so openly.
My younger son, who is five, couldn’t write his own notes so my wife talked to him throughout the year and jotted down a few of his thoughts. He was grateful for our dog Lily, for our church, and for his school.
My wife and I expressed thanks for our marriage, our health, our ability to make a living, and for individual traits of each child. I was also thankful that my kids tried new things this year and were able to push past some of their fears.
As we wrapped up our annual Thankful Box tradition. I channeled my inner Steve Jobs and shared with my family one more thing I was thankful for.
I slowly unfolded that last strip of paper and held it before me. “I’m thankful that we’re going to Disneyworld.”
“Are you serious?” Asked my daughter.
“Yes, I am,” I replied.
A chorus of “YAYs!” filled the kitchen.
“When you are grateful for the small things in life,” I said. “You can better appreciate the bigger things.
We gathered for a group hug and started planning our trip. I am truly grateful for the opportunity to instill the value of gratitude into my children.
Join the conversation: How do you teach your kids to be thankful?