Last night I received a text from my granddaughter, Nana Kim. I got your note. The note she referred to was my thank-you for her Christmas gift. She, her brother and her dad gave me some wonderful-smelling, hand-milled soaps, and a leather-tooled journal. Thoughtful, beautiful things. The names of the soaps were places or experiences like, Winter’s First Snow, that they thought I could write about. (Mountain Sister Poets – this will be a prompt for our next retreat!)

Thank you notes were written on the 26th, one each to my son, my granddaughter and my grandson. Even though my grandson is only almost 5 and can’t read yet. My granddaughter is almost 8 and is reading. It makes me happy she noticed the connection between her thoughtfulness and my appreciation. If I were doing the Blessing Jar Challenge again this year, her text would be written on a slip of paper and dropped into the jar.

By now everyone has probably seen the Blessing Jar Challenge. At the beginning of the year, take an empty jar and throughout the year fill it with slips of paper on which you’ve written things you’re thankful for. On New Year’s Eve read the slips of paper.

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I actually did this back in 2014. This is a picture of the actual jar, a large 40 oz. pretzel jar. The Blessing Jar Challenge was one of those activities like many New Year’s resolutions that started out with good intentions and energy, but somewhere along the line both waned. By April I noticed I’d not been adding much to the jar and decided to renew my efforts. Before I went to bed, I’d write at least one thing I was thankful for during the day. Some days it was easy, others the only thing I was thankful for was that the day was over. And that I had a bed to sleep in. And a roof over my head. And the slips seemed to write themselves after that. Even on my worst days there seemed to be a small list of things I was grateful for.

That was one of the lessons I learned. Another was how 99.9% of those slips of paper were simple things – phone/text conversations with Dad, my children, a friend; the dogs howling with the train whistle, birds chirping, hummingbirds buzzing the feeder; the treadmill – honestly! – yoga; rain, flowers, my woods; writing, reading, faith. There were some big things, but the prevailing list reminded me that blessings aren’t in the big things, but in the little things that mean much and last long. And that I often take for granted.

Once I renewed my efforts, it also heightened my awareness of those people and things I appreciate. Because I had this ‘assignment’ to write at least one slip at the end of the day, I kept my eyes open for those blessings. It’s amazing how that changed perspective. And slowed me down – in a good way! – because it also meant writing thank you notes, sending emails, sending texts, spending time.

2016 has been a rough year in many ways for many people. Unfortunately some of that will carry over into the New Year. Maybe a heightened sense of gratitude will help ease that. Maybe it’s time I got the jar back out. The first slip will read, Nana Kim. I got your note.

Wishing all of you a Blessed New Year

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