Every November, I dig out an old, homemade “thankfulness” journal I created in the fall of 2006, the year I transitioned from my cozy middle school in our small town to a large regional high school.  Tremendous anxiety overwhelmed me as I dealt with the busyness of classes and playing a high school sport. When November came, I started recording simple things I was grateful for, one every day leading up to Thanksgiving. This simple act did NOT fully rescue me from my anxiety, but it DID provide a glimmer of hope in the darkness.

A few days ago, as I transitioned out some of the spooky Halloween decor in exchange for turkeys, I pulled out my old journal. Cut out of a cereal box, covered in orange paper and decorated with a googly-eyed turkey, it holds 13 years worth of November gratitude. As I opened it, a hand-turkey with a bandaid spilled out (reminiscent of my “broken and beautiful” days), along with a letter of thanksgiving from a little girl I used to babysit who became the flower girl in my wedding.

Recording thankfulness each November guided me through many seasons. The daily practice sent reminders of hope while navigating high school and college, dating my first boyfriend, adjusting to my first teaching job, walking through the first year of marriage and what seemed like endlessly long days as I anticipated the arrival of my first child (10 days late! He turns two next week!).

This is my 14th year recording gratitude and once again I find myself in need of these little sprinkles of hope as I finish a challenging season of graduate school, along with being a teacher, a wife and a mom.

November 1 My cheeks hurting from smiling through our class Halloween Party planned by creative room parents.

November 2 Laughing on long car rides with my mom, as we joke about the massage our husbands are getting from the front seat of the fancy car while we cram in the middle row with a car seat.

November 3 A morning spent at Young’s dairy farm in Ohio, watching Broden sit on a tractor next to the daughter of a life-long family friend.

November 4 Warm socks that keep toes toasty and comfortable all day long.

November 5 An unexpected hour by myself at a coffee shop in Hershey to sip chai and write (this post!).

More to come…

On Thanksgiving morning, while the parade plays in the background, I will whip out my makeshift journal and transfer all of my little thanksgivings from the month that I have kept recorded on my phone to its pages, a tradition of 14 years that I will continue for a lifetime.


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