How’s your grateful meter so far this month? We tend to welcome November as the month of gratitude, but hopefully 30 days’ worth of practice creates a near-perfect habit of thanksgiving, each and every day of the year.
Help the kids count blessings, from the seemingly small ones to the ginormous ones, too. Keep a thankful heart, despite challenging circumstances, and celebrate blessings regularly with those you love.
➤ National Mason Jar Day — Work together as a family to prepare these treats to share with others for the holidays. Make double chocolate and toffee cookies by layering these ingredients in a quart-sized Mason jar: 1/2 cup sugar, 1/2 cup brown sugar, 1/4 cup cocoa powder, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon baking soda, 1 1/4 cup flour, 2/3 cup chocolate chips, 2/3 cup toffee bits and 2/3 cup white chocolate chips. Create a cute tag with these instructions: Pour the ingredients from the jar into a large mixing bowl. Add 1/2 cup softened butter and 1 egg. Mix well. Roll into 1-inch balls and bake at 375 degrees for 8 to 10 minutes.
➤ National Day of Listening — Here’s a holiday that should be celebrated every day. Make special time throughout the month to truly, actively listen to each family member. Pick different ways to celebrate each time.
For example, one night this month, turn off all electronics and gather in the den to talk about the day. Share highs and lows of the day, challenges and successes, blessings and aggravations.
On another occasion, go for a walk together. Spend the first few minutes of the hike in silence, listening to nature. Then let each person take a turn sharing their favorites, like, favorite wild animal, favorite tree, favorite flower, favorite hike from the past, favorite vacation, favorite movie and so on.
And one more suggestion: let each person take a turn teaching the family something new, like a new dance step or card game or recipe or outdoor game. Listen intently to the person speaking, no allowing any distractions to take over the teaching session.
➤ International Hat Day — Use the computer to find out what these hats look like: boater hat, bobble hat, campaign hat, umbrella hat, cartwheel hat, bonnet, beret, cowboy hat, chupalla hat, fedora, fez, tam cap, top hat, trilby hat, sailor hat, pillbox hat, newsboy hat, half hat, derby hat and any others you find online. How many hats do you have in your home? Have a hat fashion show and decide the style name for each one.
Read these fun books about hats, too: "The Hat," by Jan Brett; "Hip, Hip Beret," by Melanie Ellsworth; "Tiara’s Hat Parade" by Kelly Starling Lyons; "Tornado Slim and the Magic Cowboy Hat" by Bryan Langdo; "You Must Bring a Hat!" By Simon Philip; "Caps for Sale" by Esphyr Slobodkina; "Hats of Faith" by Medela Cohan; "This is Not My Hat" by Jon Klassen; "Hooray for Hat!" by Brian Won; "Madeline and the Bad Hat" by Ludwig Bemelmans; "The Sunhat" by Jennifer Ward; and "A Hat for Mrs. Goldman: A Story About Knitting and Love" by Michelle Edwards.
➤ Take a Hike Day — In addition to the hike mentioned above to celebrate listening, take lots and lots of hikes this month. Hike a walking trail, a wooded trail, a state park trail or maybe even a national park trail. Take lots of pictures of the sights you see, as well as selfies of the family on the hike.
Keep a hiking diary for the month and record your steps for each hike. Check to see how many steps you made at the end of the month with all the hikes added together.
➤ International Selfie Day — Keep up the selfie love during the month of November. Take selfies that represent what you’re thankful for this month. Take sunrise selfies from different locations around your home, as well as the community. Take selfies with dinners and lunches. Add a selfie collection with favorite nature sights in the background. Take selfies on shopping trips and other errands. Take selfies in dressy clothes, casual clothes, and new pajama outfits. Get creative and see how many different selfies you can snap this month.
Find all sorts of ways this month to celebrate a heart of gratitude with those you love. Spend quality moments and quantity moments as a family, making memories to last a lifetime. Continue to enjoy the beauty of autumn and celebrate a heaping helping of family time this month.
Statesboro native Julie Lavender, author of "365 Ways to Love Your Child: Turning Little Moments into Lasting Memories," and "Children’s Bible Stories for Bedtime" hopes her heart of gratitude lasts way past November and well into a brand new year.