I’ve always said that if I were religious, I’d probably be Catholic, because I love rituals. One day long ago, I was watching Oprah (before it seemed to become all about makeovers and giving away cars), as she talked about keeping a journal in which to write things you appreciate every day. I jumped on it.
However, I changed it from an individual journaling activity to a family ritual. At the beginning of dinner we mention something we appreciate about the day. One of us starts and then asks the next person what he/she appreciates. I love it, even though it has become somewhat of a listing of all our activities.
B, for instance, usually begins with appreciating that he woke up and continues to mention having breakfast, going to school, “doing school stuff”, coming home, and having dinner together. As much as I also appreciate that he woke up this morning, I sometimes wish he would put a bit more thought into his appreciations. But I have to try! and! refrain! from controlling how everyone does their appreciations.
R, the most talkative person in our family, can make her appreciations last all throughout dinner if left unchecked. It becomes an extremely detailed account of her day in standup comedy format, which no one can interrupt, because it’s her turn. When she’s in a bad mood, however, her appreciations are limited to, “I appreciate waking up and I appreciate that Mommie made this meal, the end.”
T and I focus more on things we have done for each other and on things the kids are doing or enjoying or something nice that happened that day. Since I’m menopausal, which often doesn’t seem that different from dementia, I sometimes forget to ask the next person if I’m not the last one, or I ask someone who has already had a turn. That’s embarrassing, but the doctor assures me my forgetfulness will disappear right along with menopause. Time will tell. If it does, I’ll definitely appreciate that.
The kids have made a rather annoying routine out of not wanting to start, and gloating when the other is asked to appreciate first. They can bicker about it for quite a while in a half-joking way if left unchecked. So right now they don’t fully appreciate the ritual, but I bet that when they grow up, they will. Either way, it sets the tone for the dinner conversation. It’s pretty much always positive and we laugh and joke a lot.
And, even though I wasn’t going to appreciate T or the kids in these posts, because I can just tell them personally, I think that overall in life, one of the things I appreciate most is that we laugh and have fun a lot as a family.
Have a happy Thanksgiving tomorrow, all you Americans out there.
And tell me: What do you appreciate?