Tag Archives: Gratitude

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New Year’s Resolutions and Gratitude Lists

Many of us make new years resolutions. Irresistible to those of us who like an occasional “fresh start”, the tradition of new years resolutions goes back 4,000 years, all the way to ancient Babylonia. At that time, the new year occurred at the vernal equinox, the start of spring, and many Babylonians resolved to make good on their word and return borrowed farm equipment, so their neighbors could begin the new year of farming.

Making resolutions can be a powerful act. Doing so encourages us to slow down, take stock of the year, and think about what we’d like to change or create in the coming year. Before Anna was born, Michael and I started a tradition of writing our resolutions on paper and then burning them in the fireplace, a ritual we have continued to do as a family. Young children can write something they wish to take with them in the new year and something they wish to leave behind. Resolutions and wishes can be burned in a fire, or kept in journal or a wish jar. (See Wish Jar instructions, below.)

Because the new year is a time of transition, some people, especially kids, may enjoy looking back at the past year, as well as forward into the new one. After all, the Roman god Janus, who was said to rule beginnings, transitions, doorways and time, was often depicted with two faces so he could look back and forward at once.

Gratitude Lists

One way to look back at the year is to make a gratitude list. What are you grateful for from the past year? Often our gratitude list includes things we’d like to carry with us or create more of in the coming year. The list can also be kept in a jar (below), or written in a journal or on a poster. Another fun idea? Start a journal or list of things you’re grateful for on New Years Day, or place gratitude notes in a jar, to be opened on New Years Eve next year.

My dear husband gave me this journal at the end of 2005. He wrote in it every week throughout the year.

My own gratitude list includes:
A family that laughs a lot
Good friends
Hugs
A Costa Rican adventure
A growing blog readership
The smell of clean laundry
The air after it rains
Strawberries
Tulips
Clouds
Vintage anything
Old cities and brick signs
Trains
Tomatoes
Beaches
Hats and gloves
Hopeful new immigrants
Energy
Creativity
Good health
A warm house
Meaningful work
A new book
Books and book stores
Holidays
Traditions
Amusement parks
County fairs
Swing music
Salsa Music
Colors
Babies
Curlicues
Road trips
Biking
Fresh food
Pumpkins
A smile from a stranger
Daffodils
Wildflowers
Snow-capped mountains
Starry nights
Wonder

..to name a few things

What’s on your gratitude list?

Happy New Year!

Want to read more? Check out:

New Year’s Traditions Around the World and at Home

Honor Your Family with Fun Gratitude Crafts

Make a Wish Jar

You’ll need:

Strips of paper
Pen
Jar and lid
Paint, fabric, ribbon, rickrack, letters cut from magazine pages, or other items, as desired
Primer, optional
Screwdriver, hammer and cardboard, or box cutter, optional.

Decorate your jar. You may want to prime and paint the jar lid and tie a ribbon or fabric bow around the neck.

If you want to make a slit in the lid for papers, place the lid over a piece of cardboard and carefully cut with the box cutter or hammer a screwdriver into it, in a straight line. You can also just open the jar to insert wishes.

Put the papers into the jar and place it somewhere you see often or somewhere you can check in on or add to over time.

Photos: Susan Sachs Lipman, Gratitude jar by The Healthy Ginger

Other Slow Family posts you might like:

Make Noisemakers to Welcome the New Year

Celebrate the New Year with Traditions from Around the World and at Home

Honor Your Family With Fun Gratitude Crafts

When many of us count our blessings, we often start with our own families. After all, those in our immediate and extended family are usually the people we are with the most, through small moments and larger triumphs, and those who mean the most to us. Celebrating family with fun crafts allows us to find expression for our gratitude and can allow family members to feel uniquely appreciated. These crafts can also be a way to pass on family lore, while providing children with a fuller sense of who they are and their place in their family and in the global community.

Create an Appreciation “Recipe” for a Mom or Another Special Person

I got this lovely idea from my my daughter’s  4th grade teacher, D. J. Mitchell. It’s very easy and fun to do, and it conveys a special relationship and feelings that may be otherwise hard to articulate. Help your child create a recipe for a “marvelous mom” or a “delightful dad” or a “fabulous friend” or any other combination using an adjective and the person’s name or role.

You’ll need:
• Piece of construction paper or poster board
• Markers and crayons or colored pencils
• Ruler

Think about the attributes of the recipient that make him or her special.

Write a heading on the paper: Recipe for a (fabulous friend or other).

Using a ruler, draw six or more lines on which to write your various ingredients.

Write the “ingredients” for the person, in recipe terms, such as “6 cups kindness,” “5 tablespoons love,” or whatever else you can think of.

Leave space at the bottom to write out your instructions, also using recipe terms, like mix, add, fold, blend, and so on.

Decorate the rest of the paper, as desired.

Here is Anna’s “recipe”:

Make a Personal or Family Crest or Coat of Arms

Since the seventh century in Japan and the twelfth century in Europe, families, individuals, countries, states, schools, knights, clergy, and others have used decorative and distinctive coats of arms, or family crests, to identify themselves or their clans. It’s a wonderful tradition that can be adapted in a lighthearted way to proclaim or discover individual or family identities and interests.

You’ll need:
• Paper
• Colored pencils, crayons, markers, paints, or other drawing
implements
• Ribbons, scrap paper and fabric, glitter, and other decorative
items, as desired
• School or craft glue
• Frame, optional

Draw the outline of a shield shape, which resembles a pointed shovel.

Draw lines inside of the shield to divide it into various regions. It is common for crests to have 4-6 sections. You may want to give each family member a section.

Inside each section, draw or write the name of one or more things that you enjoy doing or that you like about yourself or your family. If you’d like, leave a space inside the crest, or below it, to write the family name.

Color and decorate the items and the background of the crest. Most crests are elaborate, with lots of decorative items and flourishes.

Frame or display your unique crest.

If you’d like, try this coat of arms template.

 

You might also like:
Make an Altar to Honor Ancestors for Dia de Los Muertos, Day of the Dead

Giving Thanks: Express Gratitude with Crafts, Food, Fun and Contemplation

The Blessings of an Early Morning (with Biscuit Recipe)

I’m an early riser by nature, but lately I’ve been getting up especially early. I’m not sure why this is, though changing rhythms of self and season certainly play a part. It really feels like Fall now when the sun doesn’t rise until close to 7 am, and the mornings are fog-bathed, chilly and cozy. Though I relish bustling family time (and I sometimes wish I didn’t begin to yawn extravagantly by 10 pm or even earlier), there is something about being awake and alone in the quiet early morning hours that is extremely special, calm and naturally slow. The knowledge that the whole day is ahead, and one can be present for its entirety, lends a feeling of gratitude and fullness to the early-morning moments, a feeling that can too easily slip away as the day contracts and fills with busy-ness and chores.

I recently used an early morning to luxuriously pick up a sewing project – mending a pair of overalls for Anna – and bake biscuits, both of which I knew would surprise the family when they awoke. Like much handwork, running thread through a garment can be an especially calm and purposeful task. Filling the house with the smells of fresh coffee and biscuits tends to make early risers of others, too.

When Anna woke up and saw the biscuits, and especially her overalls, I got the biggest hug.

The biscuit recipe is adapted from Marcia Adams’ wonderful cookbook, Heartland, The Best of the Old and the New From Midwest Kitchens:

You’ll need:

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) cold butter, cut into pieces
1 cup heavy cream

Preheat oven to 400. In a food processor (or with a pastry cutter) combine flour, salt, sugar and baking powder. Drop in the butter and process until coarse crumbs form. Pour in the cream and process until just combined – do not overmix.

Transfer bowl to floured board and knead 6 turns. Pat or roll dough into a circle about 3/4 inch thick. Using a standard or other cutter, cut out biscuits. Place on lightly greased cookie sheet and back for 10-12 minutes or until golden.

Yield: Approximately 16 biscuits.

Enjoy your morning!

Photos by Susan Sachs Lipman

Giving Thanks: Express Gratitude with Crafts, Foods, Fun and Contemplation

Thanksgiving is upon us in the U.S. Even those who routinely feel and express gratitude have a sanctioned reason to pause and do so more profoundly than usual. Gratitude can transform one’s entire experience and outlook. It imbues relationships, observations and activities with awe and fullness and the realization that “this moment” — and our own unique collection of moments — is the best there is.

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The Thanksgiving holiday makes space for us to allow gratitude into our (often busy) lives in new ways and to pass that feeling on to our children. I’m very grateful for many things, including my wonderful and creative blogger friends who have taken the time to contribute their own ideas for gratitude and celebration.

While I love the smells of turkey cooking — in addition to watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade on T.V. — I also enjoy getting out in nature on Thanksgiving Day. Frugal Mama shares four make-ahead traditional Thanksgiving recipes that allow you to enjoy a wonderful Thanksgiving meal, with all the trimmings, as well as some time away from the kitchen.

Pumpkin pie is a classic Thanksgiving and Fall food and, while you can make it from scratch, this recipe using canned pumpkin, is extremely easy and makes a very tasty pie.

You can bake your own crust or use one of the pre-made ones, some of which are getting better and better tasting. Epicurious taste-tested pre-made pie crusts. Among their favorites is one of  mine, Whole Foods 365 Organic Pie Shells. Good Housekeeping also weighs in with their pre-made pie crust taste test.

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From Rhythm of the Home and Vintage Chica comes a beautiful Thankfulness Journal project.  Of course, this well-made felt-covered book would be a wonderful project to make, use and enjoy any time of year.

The same could be said of this equally inspiring and beautiful gratitude banner from Future Craft Collective. It’s fun and lovely in itself and wonderful in the way it allows family members to contemplate and formalize their gratitude.

 

Shoveling snow? Why not turn it into a fun and magical outdoor activity for you and your kids? That’s what Mel at Traveling Mel did. Her photos are delightful and inspiring, as always.

Bethe, the Grass Stain Guru, shares her own wonderful list of 10 things to be thankful for in nature.

I just had the good fortune to learn about the Greater Good Science Center in Berkeley, CA, which explores the science behind happiness and gratitude and the ways that we can nurture those brain pathways that promote them. According the the folks at Greater Good, happiness and gratitude can be learned and practiced traits.

Want more information about cultivating an attitude of gratitude? Gratitude Twenty Four Seven is just that – a very inspiring site from Jarl Forsman and Steve Sekhon full of daily tips and affirmations to help you be more grateful and fulfilled every day.

Arvind Devalia gives us some ideas about embracing what we already have.

My own gratitude list includes:
A family that laughs a lot
Good friends
The smell of clean laundry
The air after it rains
Strawberries
Tulips
Clouds
Vintage anything
Old cities
Trains
Tomatoes
Beaches
Hats and gloves
Hopeful new immigrants
Energy
Creativity
Good health
A warm house
Meaningful work
Books and book stores
Holidays
Amusement Parks
County Fairs
Swing music
Colors
Babies
Curlicues
Road trips
A smile from a stranger
Daffodils
Snow-capped mountains
Starry nights
Wonder

..to name a few things

What’s yours?

Happy Thanksgiving!

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Photos: Farm Security Administration, Rick Audet, Bernadette Noll, Susan Sachs Lipman

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