The holiday season officially kicks off this week. Are you ready? It’s a busy time with the hustle and bustle of shopping, school plays, holiday parties, and family functions mixed into the “regular” schedule. It’s a season that seems to evaporate as rapidly as it descends. However, Thanksgiving is a perfect time to stop for a moment and remember to give thanks.
Recently I head a story about an 8th grade teacher who was teaching her class this very concept. Each student writes down three negative things in their lives that they are thankful for, and then turns them into positives. For example “I am thankful for a messy house because that means I have a family at home.” The teacher explained that their lists represent all the many burdens that we think we have that are actually blessings.
Another example is of a college professor who gave her class the assignment of creating a gratitude journal. For the semester, once a week, the students wrote down one to five things that they were grateful for. The entries ranged from the mundane, “waking up this morning,” to the sublime, “the generosity of friends,” to the timeless, “the Rolling Stones.” Both teachers may not be Thanksgiving experts, but they offer us wisdom on thanksgiving (with a small “t”).
These examples inspired me to start my own gratitude journal. Once I began, the list quickly grew.
I am thankful for the Barber National Institute staff who work tirelessly and compassionately with our children and adults 24/7 365 days a year.
I am thankful for all the possibilities that the new day brings.
I’m thankful for the insight and understanding that Ryan has provided me into the challenges facing a person living with autism.
I’m thankful that our city and state support our belief that children and adults with disabilities should be able to reach their full potential within their community and not in an isolated institution.
I’m thankful for Autism Speaks and the Autism Society of NA who advocate for children with autism on a state, national and international level.
I’m thankful for the staff who worked with Ryan these past 16 years. Regardless of the challenge he presented them, they came back for another day.
I’m thankful for researchers who are seeking the most effective methodologies for treating autism.
I’m thankful that we now have technology which enables nonverbal individuals to communicate.
I’m thankful for daily opportunities to see children improve the quality of their lives.
I’m thankful for family and friends who have supported Ryan and me over the years.
I’m thankful that I live in a country which condemns the use of the “R” word in talking about people with disabilities.
I am thankful that my son is enrolled in a training program doing landscape and maintenance and that he looks forward to working.
I’m thankful for those working to make sure that individualized education happens for all children.
I’m thankful for businesses, locally and nationally, who seek a diversified workforce and are open and willing to hire people with disabilities.
I’m thankful for open minded physicians that listen with understanding to concerns parents express.
I am thankful for Ryan’s humor. As he says, “we will be cheffing all day Thursday.”
It’s naturally a time of year to reflect and give thanks, but this can also be the time when you lay the groundwork for giving thanks all year long. Start this holiday season, and if you do, I’m sure you’ll feel a bit more energized throughout the year. I do already. Happy Thanksgiving!