My extended family has a several year tradition of creating a "thankful tree" each thanksgiving. Colored paper leaves are distributed during the day and everyone writes on at least one leaf (sometimes several) to share what they're thankful for. Then we tape the leaves to a tree picture, usually drawn or painted by one of the many artistic people in the family.
We did it again this year, although our gathering was small...just my parents and the three of us. We still managed to cover the tree with bright paper leaves full of thankfulness.
Last year I instituted the tradition here at home as well, and gave the sweet girl a chance to do her own little tree before we left on our trip. It's not only a good exercise in helping her learn to "count her blessings" but gets her primed to share at the wider family gathering.
This year we didn't actually do a tree here at home, but we did do the leaves. They've been littering the table in a lovely, bright pile, and were still scattered there when we got home from our nearly-week long travels last night.
In no particular order, just as I did last year, here's my dear daughter's list of what she's thankful for:
-Mommy and Daddy
-Jesus Loves Me
-Good Books Like The Bunnies Are Not in Their Beds; Llama Llama Red Pajama; Thanksgiving at the Tappletons and Thanksgiving Is Here
-Big and Small Things
-Warm Colorful Socks
A pretty good list, I thought! Yes, I had to do a bit of prompting to help her along, but she got the hang of it pretty quick. And she insisted on listing her current favorite books (note the thanksgiving theme) after saying "good books."
"My Drums" made me smile...her current "drum set" is actually a handful of small, plastic bowls she has confiscated from the kitchen. She has chosen them carefully so that each drum has a slightly different tone, just like the real drum set at church. She uses various things as drumsticks -- the old plastic drumstick from her xylophone, a plastic knife from her toy kitchen set, a small metal pipe from a broken set of musical pipes. In addition to the drum set, she's also created a rather extensive percussion section for herself by making egg shakers out of different things. We had a couple of egg shakers we bought from Kindermusik when she was a baby, and then this summer at VBS she got a couple of plastic easter eggs with rice inside them. She has since made several more from old plastic easter eggs filled with all kinds of things: lentils, unpopped popcorn kernels; small bits of hard uncooked pasta. She loves the different sounds they make.
"Big and Small Things" is a nod to our morning prayers. For years now, literally, one of the morning prayers we have often prayed (almost if not quite every day) is this: "Dear Father, hear and bless thy beasts and singing birds. And guard with tenderness small things that have no words." That became an especially dear prayer to us back in the day when the sweet girl was struggling with her speech delay and quite literally had "no words" coming from her lips for many months on end. It's still a special prayer, but in the past year or so it's morphed into a regular litany she's created of "small things" and "big things" that God has made and which she's thankful for.
My own thankful list to come!