I’ve observed recently that I like to stack a lot of things on the plate which is my life in the hopes that one of those things will stick around and become a part of who I am. I’ve also observed that there is a major flaw in this thinking; how am I enjoy anything, keep doing anything, if I have so much to do.
While I haven’t fully worked through just how to mend that situation, I am excited to say there seems to be a thing on this plate that is here to stay: The Thankful Jar, and with it, the thankful word cloud.
The Thankful Jar (not pictured, because I didn’t have the wherewithal to snag a shot, but it’s a cheapy glass pumpkin jar I snagged after Halloween at the Farmington Walmart, a.k.a. the best Walmart, circa 2010) is the jar into which each member drops a slip of construction paper on which they have written something or someone for which they are thankful. We do this, or try to do this, every day from November 1st until Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving night, exhausted from a day of driving and eating, we settle down in bed or on the living room couch and read each slip of paper aloud.
The following year, usually within a day or two after Halloween (a couple of times the night of), I drag out all the slips of paper from all the previous years and type each one into whatever word cloud generator I’m using. (Previously I’ve always used Tagxedo, but they weren’t cooperation this year, so I used WordClouds.com for the first time and had a reasonably positive experience.)
This might sound like a slightly tedious process and it has it’s moments. (And actually, this year, I saved what I typed into the word cloud generator in a word document to have available for next year. I’ll only have one year’s worth of thankful notes to type in.) However, there is the bonus of coming across gems like these from years gone by:
This year we’re doing just about everything the same except for one detail.
In previous years, I’ve kept a stack of precut construction paper squares for us all to write on, but this year, I’ve gone with a paper chain. Each chain link happens to be long enough to break into four rectangles big enough to write on, and there happens to be a chain link for each day up until Thanksgiving. The kids had so much fun tracking the days until Halloween this year that I thought it might be fun to have a way to track time until Thanksgiving (it also helps me to have the visual reminder of much time I have to prepare before hosting a coffee and dessert post-dinner event at my house Thanksgiving night). So far, three days into it, I’m liking this method better.
This is, hands down, one of my favorite things we do and I’m almost stupidly proud of it. It’s one of the few things I’ve been able to keep going, at least to some degree, for almost as long as the four of us have been a family. What’s more, it was completely my own idea! I’m sure other families do similar things, but I came up with this pre-Pinterest and the ability to save articles on Facebook. I don’t often come up with original ideas any more, so I’m absolutely staking claim on this one.
As I take this season in my life to remove a few things from my plate and remember that my eyes are often bigger than my stomach (this is all figurative, but it rings quite true in the literal sense, as well), I am looking to this family tradition of ours as one of the things that stays on the plate. Just as I will never turn down the stuffing, green bean casserole, and cranberry sauce, the Thankful Jar stays…and I’m thankful for that.