Have you every attended a funeral and heard someone sadly remark, “I wish I had told her…”? Or have you had a teacher or mentor who made a huge impact on you and years later you still wonder if he knew just how important he was in your life? Or do you have a person in your life that does a thousand little things for you (and probably others) that have become so much a part of the assumed routine that you really only notice how much this person does on that week once a year when he or she goes out of town?
We all have had these experiences, and though we all have been taught to express gratitude, saying a quick thank you to the person who brought the pies to Thanksgiving or to the person who held the door for you at the grocery store is easy. It is more of a social convention than anything else. Conveying one’s gratitude to a parent or teacher or to a neighbor who has done something truly significant for you is much more difficult and time-consuming, and so expressing our feelings is put off for another day, another time, the right moment…and often never happens.
And then one day you are at that heart-wrenching funeral or you realize it has been twenty years since graduation and your teacher is long-retired or you have moved cities and lost touch. And the chance to tell that person the things you should have is gone.
As adults, we know all this, and still it happens. As teachers, parents, and mentors, it is important that we stress to the young people in our care the necessity of expressing gratitude and the importance of doing it now, not waiting for the “right moment.” We can do this through our words, projects and assignments (see the product highlighted below if you are at a loss of where to begin), and through example.
In this spirit and in the spirit of Thanksgiving, I share with you a letter I wrote to my mother. I hope it inspires all of you to share your gratitude with those in your life.
Thanksgiving is getting closer. Even without a calendar, I would know because the leaves are changing and Kyle has started hunting turkey-on-the-grill recipes. With this holiday in mind, I wanted to tell you three reasons why I am thankful for you.
Let’s start with something that seems simple enough, but really isn’t. You love and have always loved me unconditionally. The safety of having someone in your life who gives that to you is so important. Growing up, this allowed me to always have someone to come to even when I messed up. It allowed me to experiment with who I might be. It made it okay to get angry or frustrated or even just have a bad day. It means that even if we have a fight, you are still there.
Secondly, you taught me how to listen with my heart as well as my head. You probably don’t remember this, but about a month and a half after I got married, I came to you angry and in tears. I was up to my ears in preparations to move down to Virginia. It was a few days after my birthday, and the plant that Kyle had given me had accidentally gotten killed. I was crying and ranting about dead daisies, and you gathered me in your arms and said, “You are so scared about this move aren’t you? It’s going to be okay.” This moment not only helped me calm down about a move halfway across the country and away from my family and everything familiar, but it also shaped my life. In that moment, you crystalized for me that often people who need the most help and support are the least able to verbalize it. If you had just listened with your head, you probably would have told me to “calm down, it was just a flower.” Instead your heart gave me comfort when I needed it and direction for helping others.
Lastly, I want to say how thankful I am that you taught me to cook and bake. Compared to the last two things, this may seem significantly less profound, and maybe it is, but it is not insignificant. It is something that I use almost every day. Some of my earliest memories are cooking and baking with you in the kitchen–I remember learning how to knead bread dough while standing on a chair because I was too short to reach the counter; I remember one particular day where we peeled something like eight bushels of peaches to can while listening to unending Gordon Lightfoot (definitely your music choice); I remember your calm and gentle help as I dealt with cracked cheesecakes and delicate pie crusts and so much more. With kids of my own now, I appreciate more than ever that you took the time to teach me when it often would have been easier and quicker to just do it yourself. Thanks to you there is now no recipe that intimidates me. Thanks to you I know flavor profiles and ingredients well enough to cook without a cookbook. Thanks to you I can feed my family with a wide variety of healthy and delicious foods and be fearless in the kitchen.
There are so many more things that I could say thank you for, but I fear this letter would become a dissertation instead of a note. Regardless of what else is going on and how near or far apart we live, know that this year (and always) I am thankful for you.
Love you lots, Momma!
As next Thursday is Thanksgiving, there will be no regular post next week. Happy Thanksgiving to all of you! I hope you have a wonderful holiday!
This Week’s Featured Product
Great for around Thanksgiving or any time, this mini unit goes over the parts and composition of a thank you note or letter and has each student write a letter of gratitude to someone he or she knows. It also requires little to no prep on your part! For more details or to download this product, click here!
This Week’s Journal Questions
- Who is one person you are you thankful for in your life? Why is this person so important to you? Have you told this person?
- What is one talent you you have that you are thankful for in your life? Why is this talent so useful or great? How do you make use of it?
- What is one possession you are thankful for in your life? Why is this such a valuable item? What allows you to have or allowed you to get this thing?
A Recipe from My Kitchen:
Hearty Oat Nut Waffles with a Hint of Orange
- 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 cup melted butter
- 2 cups buttermilk
- If you do not have buttermilk, put 3 Tablespoons of lemon juice in a two cup measuring cup and then fill it to the two cup line. Let this sit for 5-10 minutes. Use this in place of the buttermilk.
- 2 Tablespoons honey
- zest of one orange
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 lightly beaten eggs
- 1 cup rolled oats
- 1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
- Butter, maple syrup, sugared strawberries, or whatever your favorite waffle topping is.
- Preheat your oven to 200º, and turn on your waffle iron.
- In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
- In a separate bowl, melt your butter. Then stir in your buttermilk, honey, orange zest, and vanilla. Add your eggs and mix thoroughly.
- Pour wet mixture into dry mixture and stir until well-combined.
- Fold in the oats and nuts.
- Cook in your waffle iron according to its instructions.
- Place cooked waffles in oven to keep warm.
- Serve waffles warm with your preferred toppings.