happy thankful

A year or two ago, worried about The Pumpkin taking for granted our family’s lifestyle and not appreciating what she had, we started a dinnertime tradition we called “happy thankful.” We’d go around the table and each person would have to share one thing that made them happy that day and one thing for which they were thankful that day.

Over time, we’ve gone through stretches of doing this religiously, often prompted by The Pumpkin herself, interrupted by long periods for which we set the ritual aside, intentionally or not, in the daily chaos of life. With Thanksgiving nearing again, we’ve been reminded to start again, and so, each night, as we sit down to dinner, we go around the table.

Sometimes The Pumpkin simplifies it down to who in the family she’s “happy for” and “thankful for,” and then she asks The Button who she’s happy and thankful for. Everyone laughs when she offers her own name as her answer. Even still, I think the message, the reason why we started this in the first place, is slowing sinking in.

But even if our daughters don’t yet fully comprehend the deeper meaning of why we go through this nightly ritual, it’s good for us, too. It’s good for us, as busy adults for whom it’s all too easy to get caught up in the routine of daily life, to stop and think about the moments and experiences and actions and interactions during the day that made us happy, or reminded us of our own happiness, and for which we were thankful for having. And for us to model that introspection and reflection for our daughters.

In a week full of new, exciting opportunities and experiences, I am happy to have my family by my side, and thankful for their love and presence in my life.

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About Jason Sperber

Jason Sperber is a stay-at-home-dad of 2 daughters and a writer in Bakersfield, California. He blogs (very infrequently) at daddy in a strange land and co-founded Rice Daddies, the group blog by Asian American dads, and is the resident hapa Trekkie at The Nerds Of Color. Follow him on Twitter at @dad_strangeland.
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2 Responses to happy thankful

  1. Jenni Kuida says:

    Unfortunately, and ashamed to say that we don’t sit down as a family to eat dinner that often. But when we do, we often ask, what’ the best part about today. and what’s the worst thing that happened today. It’s not meant to be a downer, but it gives MG a chance to let us know if something is bothering her, or something is a problem, that we might not otherwise hear about. but i do like the idea of saying what you are thankful for on top of that. thanks for sharing.

  2. HapaMama says:

    Wonderful tradition. We tried to instill this a long time ago, but unfortunately, we aren’t too good at doing this in a regular basis. Your post is a good reminder of making gratitude a habit.

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