Several years ago, I received a gift from a former preschooler when she was on the verge of graduating from my classroom…a small lined journal and a “nice” pen. Not a typical ball-point pen, but a real pen, a grown-up pen. And not a dollar store diary, but a gorgeous, leather-bound book.
It was such a thoughtful gift — this little girl’s parents knew that I enjoyed writing, and gave this gift with that in mind.
It meant so much to receive, knowing the thought they put into this. It was something other than the typical candle, candy, or Dunkin’ Donuts gift certificate that is the typical teacher gift, and it really touched me.
I brought it home, and tucked it safely in my desk…where it remained, blank and unused. Unused not because I didn’t appreciate it, but because I just didn’t know what to use it for. I already had a blog — which, in its admittedly very public way, was my journal. Writing in a book, only to retype it to post online, seemed repetitive.
So the journal sat, unused. I’d find it every so often, and contemplate what I could use it for. A dream diary? A spot for creative writing? A yearly letter to my son? I couldn’t decide.
Back in the spring, while going through a rough patch, I stumbled across this journal again. This time, I finally pulled it out of its resting place and put it to use. It’s become my gratitude journal, and is my place to record five things that I was grateful for each day. Just five things, jotted down as bullet-points.
Writing in this journal comes in fits & spurts. I’ve found that I’m more likely to pull it out and add new entries — as well as flip back through its pages to reread what I was grateful for in the past — when times are tough. That seems to be when I need the reminders, when I need to make an effort to remind myself, of what I have to be grateful for.
The first entry was pretty basic. I was grateful for my husband, my son, my health, the roof over our heads, and the opportunity to stay home with my son. Later entries celebrate the mundane (the beautiful weather, crab Rangoon, sleeping in, a good find on Freecycle, my crock-pot) and the more extraordinary (my father recovering quickly from his surgery, how thankful I am that my sister’s daughter was born healthy).
This past weekend was a tough one. I pulled out this little journal, reread all I had already written, and began adding to it again. I truly have so much to be grateful for, when I take the time to recognize and acknowledge these gifts.
In our daily lives, we must see that it is not happiness that makes us grateful, but the gratefulness that makes us happy.
— Albert Clarke