As you know, Thanksgiving is my absolute favorite holiday and probably my favorite day of the year.
And as you also know, I am a huge fan of traditions. So this year, I did what I’ve always done in the last classes before Thanksgiving break.
I ask my students to take a moment to reflect about what they are grateful for while I do the same. Sometimes we share what we wrote and talk about what we’ll be doing for the holiday.
This year, I decided to mix things up a bit.
This week I asked my students to write down a list of twenty things they are grateful for. The reaction went typically like this:
Students: (look of disbelief) Twenty?!!?
Me: (unwavering) Yes, twenty! Get to it! Quickly!
This was followed by the sounds of silence, scribbles, sighs, more scribbles, then pens falling down.
Me: (looking up from my list) Once you have twenty, I want you to write ten more.
Students: (staring in utter shock) Ten more?!?
Me: (still unwavering) Yes! Ten more! Get to it!
Silence, scribbles, pens down.
Me: (looking at them, smiling) Now that you have thirty I want you to—yes, you guessed it—do ten more.
Students: (finally catching on) Ha! You’re funny.
Scribbles, scribbles, silence, scribbles, pens down.
Me: Well, now that you have forty, naturally I want you to get to fifty.
This time they didn’t say anything. They were in the zone.
Scribbling, counting, thinking, writing. Done.
Me: The reason I asked you to do this is because I’m figuring at first it was easy to think of the big things you’re grateful for—your family, your friends, your health, being in school, having a place to live—but the more you had to come up with, the harder it got, right?
Nods all around. Smiles too.
Me: Well, I’m hoping this made you think of all the small, everyday things we often take for granted. And I’m hoping if you’re ever having a bad day you’ll stop, make a list, and realize that no matter what is going on, we all still have a lot to be grateful for. It doesn’t need to be Thanksgiving for you to think about it.
More nods, more smiles.
Me: And in just a few minutes, collectively we came up with about 1,000 things we are all grateful for. That’s a lot of gratitude.
Later, as class was ending, I wished them all a Happy Thanksgiving. They did the same. Then most did something else.
They thanked me for having them write their lists.
I thanked them for indulging me.
Smiles all around.
I hope everyone has a wonderful, happy, relaxing Thanksgiving filled with love, laughs, new memories and…