As a mom, I’m constantly stressing about the holiday months. I want everything to be perfect and I want my kids to learn why we celebrate, but while having a good time doing it! And let’s be real: I want to do something that is fun for them, but doesn’t take too much thought or time. I want the easy-peasy, but high-reward activities. Like holiday-themed cookies, am I right? Work, but worth it. Coming into Thanksgiving, I always want to make it a month where we can focus on how thankful we are.

We’ve often made a thankful tree where you write down something you are thankful for on a leaf and put it on the tree every day. Then we end up taking it all down and tossing it or putting it in a holiday bin never to be found again. I take a picture, but I don’t even know where those pictures are. So it’s fun while we’re doing it, but it doesn’t really last for us to hold on to later.

This year I saw the new Rifle Paper Co. covers and thought…I am going to change my ways. It’s never too late, right? Garland of Gratitude was a perfect cover for me to put whatever text I wanted and make a customized cover title.

I printed all of our memories throughout the year and put them into a Chatbook with the Garland of Gratitude cover. Then I got the idea to let my five-year-old write on each page what he was thankful for. When I first added the images, I thought of what he would write on each page. I was in for a real treat when he actually started writing because you know, he’s five and doesn’t think at all like his mom, apparently.

Since five-year-olds always do exactly what you want them to do (hah!), it turned out beautifully. But! It turned out better than I expected because he came up with his idea of what he was thankful for on each picture. He also thought of what his little sister was thankful for.

His little sister Maizy loves her cousin Rockwell, but Rockwell is not quite there yet to her. So he thought Maizy was thankful for “her baby” so he wrote baby. Then he had this brilliant idea to draw what he was going to write. When he wrote, “swings,” he drew a swing set next to the word. Just what I wanted? No, but I let him do what he wanted because this was all about him having an experience with this thankful book.

As we looked through the pages together, we felt a lot. We laughed, remembered, and I realized what a beautiful mess we are. We don’t always have it together, and there are some dang long days. But putting everything together and flipping each page made me realize how grateful we are for each other, and every little memory we create together, the good and the, well…not so perfect memories. The best part is, it’s not going to end up in the trash. This is something we’ll hold on to forever.

One day when my kids are in college, I’m going to open that book with my little boy’s handwriting and think back to that exact moment of him drawing on each page. Okay, now I have to stop because, well, tears welling up just thinking about him in college. Good thing he’s five. Phew, still got some time!


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