Thursday, February 5, 2015

Thanks, it's what's for dinner everybodeee!

Posted by Amy Baranski

Sometime in the past year in my house during dinner we started taking turns sharing one thing for which we are thankful. I grew up saying prayer before breaking bread and wanted to have a ritual before eating with my son that felt authentic to me. We also try to share one thing that went awry to model the idea that mistakes are positive and lead to new ways of thinking and doing AND that feeling sad or grumpy about something is okay too. It's a part of our day that should be honored and not discarded as unsavory.

My son consistently contributes to the former.
Some dinner guests at my house.
I'm just thankful we've encouraged him to sit with us for ten minutes plus at the dinner table. Whether he chooses to eat the food in front of him is another story. But dinner-time is shaping up to be a nice family gathering centered around food, conversation, and connection. We are sometimes graced with the presence of Super Grover, Pony or the Diver. And, at one time or another our beloved Vitamix.

Growing up I had a structured dinner time. I'm thankful for that. It taught me some good habits. Each night was the same. Our chairs were the same. We always prayed before each meal and watched the nightly news during dinner. We asked to be excused and were responsible for clearing the plates. When we all got a little older with after-school activities and such dinner was usually an anchor to the day. Sometimes if play rehearsal or practice was late a plate would be kept warm for us in the oven.

In hindsight I think more conversation would have been good--watching the news was serious business. But I am also thankful to have been exposed to the news--to see the wrath and good in the world. To see the world (I would not leave the country until I was 16). It also grew in me a love of journalism and storytelling. I don't like watching television much anymore consequently there's no TV in my house. I don't pray formally unless I'm visiting my folks. But I do value the togetherness of dinner and being thankful and open about the realness of the day.

It's this kind of modeling and structure that I value so much as a parent of a toddler. He values everything we give him--our words, actions, feelings, mistakes and so on. So I've decided to bring him in on the gratitude journal journey. He has his own book and I'm making a point of asking him what's something he's grateful for. I keep our journals on my dresser along with a pen. I record his thoughts and mine too. Having my journal in one place is helping me to develop the habit of writing in it. I use my dresser every day so the journal is easy to access to quickly jot something down.

Last night my son shared: "I'm thankful for going to bed! For nursing--that's what I'm thankful for; bedtime nursing." Such honesty and sweetness in his moment of grace.

I wrote: "Beeswax candles and moonlight on a foggy night" two things that had lifted my mood recently.

I've never kept a gratitude journal, so this month is a first for me. Maybe it could be a first for you and your kid. My sister keeps track of fun memories that she and her boys make throughout the year. They keep the memories in a jar and read them at the end of the year. I LOVE that idea. What a fun way to reflect on the blessings of life and to remember the good. Don't forget about the bad but remember the good. Remember the good.


Carol said...

Earlier this year I was grateful for Super Grover who reminded me how grateful I am for Kermit the Frog - my longtime hero. Defender of the meek, friend of the misunderstood, and promoter of love for every living thing, particularly green ones.

Bob Redmond said...

You're such an awesome mom, Amy!

Amy Baranski said...

Carol! I just saw your comment. Kermie holds a special place in the Redmond's hearts too. That Jim Henson - huh?