A Tradition of Gratitude

On New Year’s Day as I sat in my comfy pants, reading socks and oversized sweat shirt nestled into the couch covered in my special purple quilt by the glow of a fire; I began a new tradition.

I reached for the mason jar speckled with coloured papers.  It is brimming with tiny folder pink notes each penned with a date and an event or thought which brought me happiness, a smile, a laugh, a pause, or reflection.  Every little piece of paper marked a moment in time from the past year.

I had seen this concept, as many of you likely have, on social media for a couple of years.  The idea is to write down something that you are grateful for daily, or in some examples weekly.  I decided I would enjoy gifting myself with this new tradition, and consciously choose to write a note at any time.  No pressure to meet a certain number of notes or force gratitude, as it seemed to me that would defeat the purpose of the exercise.

In any new year many of us spend time creating resolutions. Setting a goal to be better in some aspect of our lives. There is often some reflecting on the past year and areas for improvement as part of this process.  If I am being honest, I have consumed an inordinate amount of time dwelling on failures or all the negative bits of the year.  Perhaps I thought that this will empower me for the year ahead to be somehow better.  Instead it often left me feeling deflated.

My goal was intentionally different this year; start the year with a positive mindset, one filled with gratitude for every moment, small step or big milestone that inspired me to pause, reflect and write.

I promised myself that I would write these little notes throughout the year.  There would be no structure, no timelines, no must have deliverables, no pressure.  Just a simple glass mason jar, some coloured paper and a pen on the mantle.  I had chosen four different colours of paper, one for each family member as an invitation to participate was open to all. 

The jar could have sat collecting nothing but dust for 365 days, but instead it captured moments, precious simple flickers of time, gifted to me which filled me with gratitude not once, but twice, as I pulled each one from the jar to read them.

Most of these treasured moments were not captured with a selfie or in any photo.  Nor will you find them on insta, in a snap or the twitter verse.  They were not about work, money, exercise, weight, wins or losses.  They were real life moments, ones you would not normally think twice about, but the ones which truly spoke to me then and now.

As I unfolded one paper and read the words not carefully written but scribbled, a tear rolled down my cheek.  I had an epiphany that my perspective of the year wasn’t the reality. We tend to remember only the big positive things like accomplishments and milestones, but every single challenge, obstacle, or hardship. In reflecting on the small things and writing them down I was cherishing and placing a higher value on the gift of time and being present. And I had so much more to be grateful for than I imagined. 

 I want to remember the feeling of gratitude for the small gifts everyday, the sense of pride and accomplishment that came from saying yes to a new tradition which I stayed with until the end.  Each note pulled from the jar was a little piece of me and in that a further insight into myself. 

My new tradition is to sit by the fire with my jar filled with gratitude, journey through time and enjoy.  It’s the final unwrapping of the season. The gift that gives the greatest with the memories, knowledge, insights, laughter, smiles and even a few happy tears. 

So next year I will again sit by the fire with my time capsule gratitude jar in my lap with an overflowing heart as I journey through time.

My first note for 2019 reads:

“Grateful for starting this new tradition.”