As I reflect on the past few years, I can recognize that one of the greatest themes in my life over this time has been learning to be more thankful. I am learning to stop, to pause, to reflect, to meditate on the lovely. It has been a powerful thing in my life. I believe gratitude has the power to change our world.
So, in an effort to create space for reflection and focused gratitude in our family, I put together a "Gratitude Box".
I took shipping tags from Office Depot and numbered them 1 -15, one for every year of our marriage (we just celebrated our 12th year anniversary in August - woo hoo!).
And, over the weeks leading up to Christmas last year, my husband and I went through the years of our marriage together and chose something significant from each year to mark that year. We have tried to attach an object or photo to each of the tags that is connected to the year's memory, but we also write a brief description of what and why it is significant on the shipping tag.
We have our babies' hospital ID bracelets attached to the years that they entered our lives.
We have the key from our first house.
We have a Bible verse that was plastered all over our house to remind us to meditate on the lovely in the midst of a truly dark season, among other objects and tokens that help tell the story of our life as a family.
It was such a powerful thing for Drew and I to sit and reflect on our journey as a family, and how blessed we are, and also on the highs and lows that we have weathered together.
Our tradition is that this is the last "gift" that we open on Christmas, and as a family we will unpack the box and look at the concrete examples of favor and blessing and peace and joy that are woven in our story. I hope that this will become a highlight of my children's Christmas traditions, and that in the years to come, we will choose our year's markers together. I hope that one day when my kids get married, that this will be a gift that I can give to them - an empty box that is theirs to fill with treasured momentos that help them reflect on God's gifts to them.
I think that this could also be a lovely Thanksgiving or New Year's tradition. I plan on making it a gift that I give to couples who are getting married. I just know in my own life, that if I do not deliberately open my eyes wide enough to see the beauty in my history, and to purposefully choose to respond with gratitude, that I am missing out.
As a gift, I put together a collection of shipping tags, with numbers to mark their years. I like the metal boxes from IKEA, or the fabric covered boxes from Waverly that are sold at Target or TJ Maxx stores. I embellished the tags with some scrapbooking scraps to add a little flair and then fastened them together with D-rings sold at office supply stores.
I also printed this to go in the box:
Do you have any Christmas traditions that are focused on gratitude? What Christmas traditions are you hoping that your children will continue once they are off in families of their own?