Be thankful for a garden hose

At Thanksgiving at my dad’s house, we have a tradition I’m sure is similar to a lot of other families. Before gorging on our Thanksgiving feast, we stand around the kitchen, hold hands, and we each say something we’re thankful for.

A few years ago when Ben was 5, we visited my dad for Thanksgiving and did this same tradition. Ben was asked to kick it off. Having not participated in this tradition before, I was sure he would shout out that he was thankful for sugar, or more likely, “What does thankful mean??” Instead he said, without prompting, “I am thankful for being here with all of you.”

Heart. Melted.

I guess it hadn’t hit me before then that it was possible for a five-year-old to pick up on the importance of being thankful and the meaning of family. Of supporting each other through the good stuff and bad. Of forgiving each other when we act a little crazy, since we tend to reserve our crazy moments especially for our family members. Of unconditional love even though we don’t say it nearly enough to each other.

After that trip, I was inspired to start a new tradition of nightly thankfuls. Since then, every night before we eat dinner, we  “say our thankfuls”. It feels so good to be thankful.

Sometimes it’s hard after a really rough day to think of something specific to be thankful for. That’s when we whip out the old standby, “I’m thankful for all of you.” Or, on a really rough day, “I’m thankful that the day is almost over and tomorrow is a new day.”

Since he could talk, Cole has had the same thankful, “I’m thankful mommy made this special dinner.” Even if Dan made it, he’d still say mommy like he was on autopilot. Although, just recently, Cole started to change it up with, “I’m thankful for this impressive family.” Oh, that kid.

Now that he’s older and wiser, Ben sometimes uses the time to manipulate the system to get something he wants. He’ll flash his smile and throw out something like, “I’m thankful that mommy is going to take me mini-golfing this weekend.” Ha! Nice try. Not a chance. I’m on to him.

A wise psychologist who knows a lot about neurology once explained to me, in layman terms, that the brain is just a muscle like any other. There is a negative part of the brain and a positive part of the brain. The negative part is what feeds the “I can’t” thoughts. The positive part feeds the “I can” thoughts. If you want to be more positive and happy, you need to exercise the positive part of your brain just like you would do bicep curls to strengthen your bicep. Thankfuls do just that. They exercise the positive part of your brain. They give you that shot of positivity and appreciation of the good stuff that your brain needs to keep being happy.

There is always something to be thankful for – not just on Thanksgiving – so why not be thankful every day. Be thankful for the big things like health and family. But, be thankful for the little things too, like a garden hose. If it weren’t for that garden hose, think of how many trips you’d have to make back and forth with that little watering can?

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving.