I would like to preface today's post with my thanks to those of you who responded to last week’s post “Make a Difference.” Each of your responses was very meaningful to me. My publisher has invited me to share your responses with him, which I am delighted to do. It’s not too late to post your response. Just scroll down this page to the piece entitled Make a Difference and add your thoughts. If you prefer you can respond directly to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. My publisher is moving forward, and I believe that my book will be published. Still, it’s not a done deal, and it may be that your response will make a difference.
My 9 year old grandson, Aaron, entered “The Write Stuff Thanksgiving Essay Contest,” a writing contest sponsored by Mimi’s Café. His teacher used the contest as a writing assignment. Aaron wrote some tender thoughts about his little sister and about modern medicine. Aaron is one of 15 finalists selected out of over 1200 entries. We are thrilled. Tomorrow he will read his essay at a special gathering at Mimi’s, where all writers will be honored and fed, and three winners will be awarded a $1,000 savings bond.
I would love to share Aaron’s essay with you. I will need to get his permission, and perhaps Mimi’s.
I am grateful to teachers like Aaron’s who nurture the creative voices of children and to organizations like Mimi’s who lend their support in such a big way. I am also grateful to both for nurturing gratitude, in a world that often emphasizes entitlement, and rewards greed. Encouraging young voices is a noble work. Encouraging gratitude is just as noble. I am thankful to those who taught me be thankful as well as those who encouraged me to write.
In honor of the Thanksgiving Holiday perhaps each of us can make a difference, by encouraging a young voice and planting the seeds of gratitude. Whether you are a parent, grandparent, teacher, brother, sister, or friend, you can make a difference in a young life today. Here are some ideas to get you thinking.
1. Gather magazines, scissors, paper, and glue, and allow kids to create a Thankful Collage. The collage can be on a flat piece of paper or it can be glued on a three dimensional object such as a box.
2. Use the child’s name to form a Gratitude Acronym. The child will write his name vertically on the page and then write down something for which he is thankful beginning with each of the letters. For example:
3. Help the child create a simple Thanksgiving Crossword pattern using their name as the basic structure. This is similar to the acronym except that the name letters can appear anywhere in the thankful words. Don’t worry about vertical lines, except for the name. For example:
The name letters L i n d a are supposed to line up vertically. In case it doesn't transfer well, I hope you get the idea. It's also fun to use your last name and get everyone involved.
4. Encourage a child to write a Thankful Poem. If he doesn’t know how to start give him a simple beginning and let him take it from there. Here are a couple of starting ideas.
Thank you for the good things that come to me each day.
Thanks for friends I see at school and friends who come to play.
I am thankful for the sun
And for each drop of rain
I am thankful I can run
Remember that poems don’t always have to rhyme either.
If the child can’t handle the writing, you can be a scribe, or you can create together. Feel free to post your poems on the blog, so that we can enjoy them too.
5. Help a child start a Gratitude Journal. Get a small notebook. At the end of each day the child will list 5 things he/she is grateful for. The list can be one word items or detailed sentences. Each day's list will be unique, according to the events of the day. This is such a great habit for kids and adults. I highly recommend it. It encourages us to look for the good things in our lives, and appreciate our blessings.
6. Encourage the child to think outside of the box. The Thankgiving Day box usually has 4 predictable sides; home, family, food & clothes, friends. Good things to be sure, but let’s encourage the kids to dig a little deeper and think of something a little more personal; a little more specific.
Recently I had this sort of talk with some kids. We talked about digging deeper and giving more personal answers. It was really fun to hear what they came up with. Some of the especially meaningful ones to me were music and hands. The music girl even named a specific song that had touched her life. What profound thoughts they stirred in my head as I realized how deeply grateful I am for these precious gifts in my life. When was the last time you thought to be grateful for your hands?
Today is a great day to be thankful. Today is a great day to encourage a young artist or writer. You can make a difference.