There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.
– Albert Einstein
As we move into cooler crisp autumn days we look forward to holidays and festivals awaiting our special attention, one of which is Thanksgiving Day. Thanksgiving is an opportunity to purposefully teach our children to live lives of gratitude. Since children learn by example and imitation, we can begin by looking at how and when we express our own gratitude. Gratitude is not comprised of a single act or a set-aside day, but a way of life, recognizing the wonder and miracle of life. As we take time to observe the seemingly small or insignificant things and moments of daily life, our children will take note of the times we express our gratitude, whether it be thanking the cashier for bagging our groceries, saying a prayer before dinner grateful for the ones who labor to provide our food, or sending a letter to a loved one, just because.
Each autumn in our home we make an autumn tree that later becomes our Tree of Thanksgiving. It is a way to bring the outdoors in and in the end, purposefully recognize that each member of our family has reason to be thankful.
To begin, the children paint a heavyweight paper with orange, red and yellow using the wet-on-wet watercolor technique found in this article by Rick Tan in the Spring 2011 edition of Rhythm of the Home.
Next, we use a leaf cookie cutter to outline several leaves and cut them out.
Using butcher paper, or a brown paper bag, we draw and cut out a tree trunk.
Now it is time to hang up our autumn tree with leaves falling. (This is also a time we use to explain the change of seasons in context to the rhythm of the year.)
On the Monday before Thanksgiving, we discuss what it means to be thankful and for the next four days, we write what we are thankful for on a leaf, putting the year on the stem. Each year we hang up the same tree and the same leaves adding more blank leaves yet to be written on. To let our children uninhibitedly pronounce what they are thankful for, be it an object (doll, tree, swing), a person (mama, daddy, brother), or a concept (joy, love, peace) is to allow us a fresh look at their tender souls — a gift in itself to be thankful for.
Lynn often finds herself musing at the many things for which she is grateful at her blog How the Sun Rose.