Setting the Table for Gratitude

Gratitude is a feel good word that inevitably pops up around the fourth Thursday of November. Perhaps it's on your child's vocabulary list or trending on your podcast feed. On the surface, gratitude is typically associated with politeness or warm fuzzies, but with a willingness to dig a little deeper, it has the potential to offer so much more.

Gratitude is active, not passive. It is is an age-old discipline that connects us to those around us, regardless of our feelings at the present moment.


@Home Experiences

COLLECTING AND REFLECTING

No matter your child's age, you can practice and model gratitude along with them. Practice "setting the table" for gratitude and seek to connect even deeper with those we appreciate. 

Jar Centerpiece

  • Give a mason jar to each member your household and ask them to fill it with objects that represent things they are grateful for. Give your child time to search for just the right things around the house, whether it's a family polaroid, toys, pet collars, or anything else that is meaningful to them. 
  • When everyone's jar is complete, take turns sharing around the table about what each object represents in your collections. Then place all the jars together in the center of the table to create a gratitude-themed centerpiece, perhaps adding candles, flowers or garland to enhance the specialness of the objects. 

Nature Portraits

   

  • Collect a mixture of natural materials with your child, such as twigs, leaves, pebbles, acorns, and pinecones, and arange them neatly on your table, alongside some paper and glue. Ask your child to think of someone they are grateful for, such as a friend, family member, or teacher. Then ask them if they would like to make a portrait of this person using the materials you collected.
  • As they begin working, ask your child open-ended questions about why they chose that person and what they appreciate about them. Write down their direct quotes in order to add them at the end. When they are finished creating their portrait, ask them what they would like to do with their artwork. Perhaps it could be given as a gift to that special someone or become a series of portraits that grows overtime. 

GAMES & RITUALS

Web of Gratitude

  • Bring a ball of yarn to the table with the goal of connecting every member of your household. Hold onto one end of the yarn and throw the ball to someone else while verbalizing something you appreciate about that person. Try to be as specific as possible with your gratitude, mentioning how they have impacted you this week with as many details as possible.
  • When you are finished, it's their turn to throw the yarn ball to someone else and begin again. This game continues until everyone has connected with each person around the table, creating an interdependent web of gratitude. 

Poems, Songs, and Prayers

  • Singing songs, reading poems, or saying prayers around the table is a powerful way to stay grounded in gratitude. Whether it's a daily or weekly practice, find a space and rhythm that works for your family and see what surprising moments of gratitude turn up! 


Caregiver Reflections

Try to recall a time in your childhood when you experienced a deep sense of gratitude. What did it look like? Feel like? Sound like?

How does gratitude help connect you to others?

How does gratitude show up in your life as an adult? Is it similar or different to when you were a child? How so?