Instilling gratitude is a sometimes daunting parental responsibility. Don’t get me wrong, there are so many blessings for which to give thanks, but modeling a grateful heart is easier said than done. “Thank you” often rolls off the tongue. Expressing gratitude in a more genuine manner? That’s the tricky part.
Pausing to appreciate the people and things in my life takes conscious effort. It’s something I’m trying to be very mindful of, especially now that my kids are getting older. I want them to understand the true meaning of gratitude and how we can share it with others. Coming up with relevant, age-appropriate ideas has led back to one core memory.
As a young child, I had an uncle who traveled around the world. He’d send postcards detailing his unique adventures; by my teenage years, I had a shoebox full of letters. I remember anticipating the arrival of the mail, checking the mailbox, and eagerly looking at the pictures and messages. At the time, I didn’t fully understand the meaning behind the letters, but I knew they made me feel special. This simple gesture left a lasting impact on the love that can be passed along through a handwritten letter.
Expressing gratitude doesn’t have to come in the form of “thanks.” Taking the time to share kind words can represent the same feeling. Holiday cards, thinking-of-yous, and even funny pen pal messages…they all take thought and effort, and they remind the receiver that he/she matters. Some are printed on gorgeous stationery or penned in hilariously relatable cards, but it’s the sentiments that count. It is a gift to share authentic words of appreciation.
Letter writing is just one way to model a grateful heart, and it’s something I’m hoping to pass along to my children. Slowing down and sharing love and appreciation for family members and friends; it’s the true meaning of gratitude.