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Sowing Gratitude

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November is here, and yesterday I pulled down our Fisher Price Little People “First Thanksgiving” set from the top shelf to much fanfare with Little Drummer Boy and Bug. It’s become a tradition that gets the boys excited–so much so that Bug took the horse and cart along with Boy Pilgrim to bed with him for nap time. This was after Little Drummer Boy sat at the kitchen table and acted out his own version of the First Thanksgiving celebration slash car chase and Transformer storyline–all in an attempt to avoid Baby Girl stealing the show, literally. Her first interaction with the set came later when her greatest joy was to toss the First Thanksgiving basket and all its contents around the living room, which I’m sure gave Girl Indian Native American a whopping headache. It will be the first of many times this year that I fetch the prize pumpkin and turkey platter from under the couch.

In this day of instant and almost constant excess, it is a continual challenge to know how to instill gratitude in the hearts of my sweet gifts. Unfortunately it’s sometimes a continual challenge to know how to instill gratitude in the heart of their Mommy and Daddy as well. Still, carved in between “trunk or treating” with the Montgomery volunteer fire department/scarecrow contingent and the much anticipated Christmas season, I like to give Thanksgiving its due. So, on November 1st, we get down the Little People set and the few Thanksgiving books we have to savor for the next month. Little Drummer Boy and I read The Pilgrim’s First Thanksgiving and Over the River and Through the Woods last night for what may become a nightly occurrence during this month, and we’ve even found a few library books to keep us in the mood. Of course, I’m sure Charlie Brown will make an appearance at some point as well.

This year, we’re starting something new. I saw a blog post a few weeks back about an interesting way to get the whole family involved in giving thanks–a Thanksgiving Tree. [Through much kicking myself as I’ve searched my browser history, I’ve yet to find the link again, or I would gladly post it here. If this is your idea or your blog post, please let me know, and I’ll be glad to offer credit where it’s due!] The Thanksgiving Tree I saw was a lovely collection of tree branches gathered as a display. Each day family members said one thing they were thankful for, no matter how silly or serious,and wrote it on a paper tag to hang on the tree–ornaments of gratitude to inspire more thankful hearts. I loved the idea the moment I saw it, and the rest of the Montgomery clan concurred.

When we spent a weekend on “the farm” a few weeks ago, one of our missions was to find THE Thanksgiving Tree for us. Bug was convinced we should be looking for a Christmas tree, but was easily persuaded once he realized sticks were involved. Boys. Sticks. No-brainer. From that point forward during our long walk / wagon-pull from the farmhouse to the usually cabled road we call the “back back” all eyes were peeled for the best branches for our tabletop–at least when they weren’t peeled to cows, rocks, flowers, bugs and each other. When we were nearing the barn on the return trip, we settled on a tiny little deciduous version, no leaves attached, that we all determined was perfect. It came apart in two pieces when Quiver pulled it from the ground, but we were undaunted. This was our first Thanksgiving Tree.

Yesterday was the day to install it on our table. I had a pumpkin basket (whose top also doubles as a great hat) that was the perfect container. We decided that the giant collection of “flint rocks” my three boys (two little, one big) have collected in hopes of a future fish tank could be pressed into service to hold the branches in place. Please don’t ask me what “flint rocks” are. It’s been explained to me, and folks of the boy variety in my house can easily recognize them. Though, honestly, it still escapes me, but back to the show… After some great help from Little Drummer Boy to get the turkey table runner just right and get the rocks dropped in one handful at a time, the Montgomery Thanksgiving Tree took its rightful place. Memories. We’ve talked with the boys several times about how we will each be able to hang something on the tree at supper time each night until Thanksgiving. I knew this idea had tons of joy-potential when the first thing Bug said upon walking into the dining room this morning was “our Thanksgiving Tree!”

And, so it begins. Our month-long quest for Thanksgiving. In 2008, I wrote my first 12 Days of Thanksgiving series in the days leading up to Thanksgiving Day, which I’ll be writing again this year beginning November 15. And, some other thankful posts will probably pop up along the way as well as reports from the decorating of the Thanksgiving Tree. I’d be delighted for you to peek through the window at our attempt at sowing the seeds of gratitude in all our hearts. We’ll see where they blossom.

I’m convinced that gratitude is an antidote to worry and complaint, and it’s the catalyst for kindness and generosity. In times of joy, in times of hardship, I need it. We need it.

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“In everything give thanks…”

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