Reclaim Gratitude This Season

Is it just me, or does it seem like this holiday season is making an appearance SO much earlier this year?

One second, I am trick-or-treating with my kids and watching the leaves turn, then, I blink, and Christmas music is playing and I am surrounded by holiday decorations. I must say, I LOVE Christmas music and I am all for it (if you know me, you know I program my car presets to play Christmas music as early as possible.) However, it worries me that Thanksgiving is not even a consideration, outside of what to eat and where we need to travel to make sure we check our “family time” boxes.

Yesterday, my almost-four-year-old daughter received a catalog from Amazon in the mail, with special stickers to note her “wish list” items.

When did it become the norm to skip gratitude, altogether, and immerse ourselves in the need for more?

At Kids Mindful Movement, we noticed this trend and dedicated November to reclaiming gratitude. Each class, we focus on small, unique ways that kids can put gratitude top-of-mind. Students created gratitude stones that kids carry with them and grab a hold of when they feel uneasy or upset. In our Pittsboro studio, our youngest students have helped create gratitude garland, each leaf representing a small blessing that they are thankful for, from the color purple to puppies, or pizza.

The students discuss how they feel when they think about these blessings. One student,  seven years old, replies, “I feel happy and loved.” Another, five years old, inserts, “I feel calm and safe.”

As the teacher, I observe their small smiles and feel the energy of the room settle. There is no talk of not being enough, not having enough, or feeling unsatisfied. We are all present and embracing the moment, just as it is. We are experiencing mindfulness.

One of my favorite quotes is from Melody Beattie who says,

“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today and creates a vision for tomorrow.”

What if we approached this holiday season in a different way? What if, instead of wanting more, we embraced what we have? Would we become more mindful people? Would we love more completely? Would we truly enjoy our blessings? Would we, through wanting less and appreciating more, find the fulfillment that we were seeking all along?

Today, you can reclaim gratitude.

Take a moment and embrace it. Notice what you see, smell, taste, feel, and hear. Fully experience it with each of your senses and give thanks. Then, notice how you feel when taking a moment to feel thankful. Try it again tomorrow. Maybe even try it for a week. And, potentially, these small moments can make huge transformations in your holiday season, giving you one of the most special gifts: that of appreciating the present.