Building Gratitude

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Thanksgiving brings thoughts of gratitude to many, ironically nestled halfway between two holidays that are commercialized to the point of being absurd – Halloween and Christmas. Anymore, it is impossible to get to Halloween before the Christmas decorations are in the stores. A trend by retailers began around 20 years ago, with many of them having doorbuster sales on Thanksgiving Day. Recently, however, more have decided to remain closed on Thanksgiving, often offering hard to beat sales online. 

I’ve always loved Thanksgiving and its meaning and have tried to instill a spirit of gratitude in my home. This is certainly easier said than done with the gluttony of Halloween and the commercialism of Christmas. When my children were young, I started the month of November with a swift change of our daily life with gratitude being at the center of our daily schedule with a few minutes each day as we went about our daily schedule before we went to sleep at Imperial Trailer Village, a premier RV park in Los Angeles. 

The Gratitude Tree 

Early on, I tried to draw tree trunks with branches upon which we could glue construction paper leaves on which we would record something daily that we were grateful for. I’m not bragging or anything, but I am a terrible artist. This idea evolved into one of my favorite traditions – the gratitude tree. So, confession time, I am totally not a Pinterest mom, rather one that tries to create something that usually looks like one of those “Nailed it” type photos. 

But I digress, at the crux of the matter is that you have a tree of some form and cut out leaves, circles, anything. Each night, you will add something for which you are thankful, either as a family or individually by writing upon a leaf, circle, whatever and add it to the tree. It really depends on you and what works for your family.  

The principle is simple. If we each know that we need to think of something for which we are thankful, we watch for those small things during the day. Same principle as, “You find what you focus upon.” As our kids have grown and started their families, I am glad to see that they kept the tradition going. Through the years, the Gratitude Tree has been an artificial Christmas tree, bare branches from the tree in our yard, a poster, and one of my daughters made a bunting with various shapes hanging from it. It really doesn’t matter what you choose, it’s the method that is important rather than its presentation. 

As we march ever closer to Thanksgiving, we’re able to better reflect on those things for which we are grateful, like the adage says, “if you think about a yellow car, you will see a yellow car.” Now that everyone’s looking for yellow cars, we’d like to say that we are very grateful for our wonderful residents, neighbors, and friends at Imperial Trailer Village, long-time trailer park in Los Angeles 

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