Praying mantises, granola, family, holding hands with my sister, playing games, the world, the sun, the rain, Jesus, my friends… these are just a few of the things my girls wrote that they were thankful for in the preschool and early elementary years. A decade ago they didn’t use many vowels in their spelling, though Jesus somehow had an “a” in his name. They didn’t drive or take AP classes. Things may have been simpler when they were younger. Or, my memory may be clouded by nostalgia.
Before I inherited it, the redwood box that holds our slips of gratitude, sat on my grandmother’s counter, filled with recipes for oyster crackers and jello salads, next to the AM radio that played the noon farm report. Each November, I set the box on our family table to encourage our family to practice gratitude. Over the years, the slips of paper accumulated, but centered on common themes – family, life’s necessities, creation, and faith. Like carbon dating, the improved spelling serves as a time stamp for each year’s offerings. More vowels. Neater lines. Fewer backwards letters. When we moved to this home nine years ago, the box was placed on the kitchen counter and mostly forgotten.
This week of All Saints, I remember my grandmother Louise- to whom the boxed belonged, my grandfather Orville, Grandma Polly and Grandpa Paul. A picture of my Great Grandma Miller, surrounded by children in the church nursery, hangs by my desk at work. I am grateful for them and countless Sunday school teachers, choir directors, pastors and family friends who modeled authentic faith, rooted in love of God and neighbor.
I’ve added slips with their names to the recipe box and, for the first time in years, put the box back in the center of our table. Perhaps between orchestra practices and homework these lovely young people, whom I am privileged to parent, will once again participate in this simple practice of gratitude.