Making a List

December holidays often veer from their intended purpose. It's become a time for helping your child make their Santa wish list and spend money we don't have for things they don't need. No doubt it is fun for children to think about what presents they might ask for (reminding them that the economy is struggling and Santa is probably on a budget!). I hope you help them to make another list as well'a gratitude list. As I get older, I find myself more appreciative of the people, events and situations that have been part of my life history.

Perhaps every family member could make a gratitude list. It could start with the obvious things like being grateful for our health, family and friends. But I would challenge you to teach your children to be more specific when they think or utter words of gratitude. With only three living family members left'and only one of those in Texas'I realize now that I had years of gratitude that I took for granted. We all find the time to complain'we don't always fine the time to express our gratitude.

Each day during the month of December perhaps each family member could write on a small piece of paper one thing that they were grateful for during the past 24 hours. Encourage people to be specific. Rather than a vague "I'm grateful that we have a house to live in,"a more specific example could be "I'm grateful I live in a warm house with family who love me." "The dinner was good"is made stronger by being more detailed, "I appreciate the time Mother spends to make the delicious spaghetti sauce.'

And sometime on Christmas Eve over hot tea, cider or chocolate, take those sheets of paper out and read them aloud. Let everyone know how blessed they are to have so much to be grateful for. Perhaps the true meaning of Christmas will be stronger in our hearts and we will have a more joyful year filled with kindness to others. We cannot be in a state of appreciation and a negative emotion at the same time so this can help us in so many ways.

P.S. Please see my other column, The Counselor's Corner about the five languages of apology.

Copyright 2009, Sharon Scott. No reproduction without written permission from author.