“Begin each day with a grateful heart.” – unknown
Our Grateful Board
One of my favorite books is A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith. If you haven’t read it, it’s about an impoverished family living in Brooklyn in the early 1900’s. The family doesn’t have many possessions and they are forced to move often because of their father’s alcoholism. The main character, a little girl named Francie, describes her family’s tradition of prying up their tin can bank (a tin can cut in a way that could be nailed to the floor to form a bank) and hammering it in at their next apartment- it was one of the first things they did and the new place wouldn’t feel like home until it was done.
I’ve written before over at Twodaloo about our family chalkboard- it was a ritual that we used in our house for a long time starting when the twins were around two (they are now 4 years, 9 months). It helped us build language and literacy skills and boost our communication as a family- you can read more about it here.
When we moved to our new house last summer, I tried and tried to make our little breakfast nook (where we eat most of our meals) feel cozy but I just couldn’t get it right. One day I was going through boxes in our garage when I had an aha! moment…we needed our chalkboard! I promptly nailed it up and the breakfast nook felt instantly “us.” I suppose that chalkboard is our tin can bank, eh?
In our house, starting the day on a positive note is a big priority- I find that if we have a grumpy morning, the rest of the day often follows suit. We had so many rushed, cranky mornings last year when I was teaching and the kids were in preschool- I can’t get those back but I am determined to do better this year. I’ve seen a lot of articles about a daily gratitude practice and how it may actually lead to measurable physical, psychological, and social benefits. At the very least, it’s just a lovely way to start the day, being grateful for something in your life.
So, during breakfast almost every morning (the twins never hesitate to remind us if we forget), we all share one thing we are grateful for that day and I write it on the chalkboard. Usually I illustrate it with silly little drawings that the kids request. Sometimes we count the words in our sentences or identify some of the letters that the kids recognize, if they initiate it. Sometimes the kids add their own drawings and writing at the bottom. And sometimes we just go on about our day with a little spark of joy in our hearts.