10/10/2015 01:41 EDT | Updated 10/09/2016 05:12 EDT

A Thanksgiving Journal

a book and maple leaves
TongRo Images via Getty Images
a book and maple leaves

Since my oldest son was born almost five years ago I nearly memorized every 'family tradition' pin to every cross the Pinterest-verse. I have been overeager to start new, memorable traditions as a young family.

A few years in, and a couple more kids later, I've realized that it takes more than Pinning It to make it an annual custom.

But something has stuck over the years since we've become a new family.

The Thanksgiving Journal.

It is a simple notebook I picked up from the local dollarstore-slash-bakery that our small town relies on for local crafting supplies. And donuts... baked fresh each Wednesday.

The first year I brought the empty book to the Thanksgiving table it was met with a little hesitation. I asked everyone to write what they were thankful for... yes, like on paper... yes, like in writing... yes, we are going to read it out after... yes, I do need this much gravy on my turkey. Don't you judge me!

These hesitations didn't last long, they eventually succumbed to the mellow unwinding that accompanies a gravy coma and a glass or two of wine. As we let our dinners digest, everyone took turns passing around the book and writing some things they were thankful for. And then, because it's a North American Thanksgiving, we packed up all the dinner leftovers and returned to the table for even more food.

Pie was served, another translucent glass of spirits were shared, the book was passed around the table and sentiments of gratitude were voiced: Health, marriages, new jobs, new relationships, old friends, babies that have been born, loved ones that have passed. All the things we never say often enough, but we expect everyone assumes, were given words, a time, and an audience.

Sometimes I pull the Thanksgiving Journal off the shelf and read back through it. It has only been five quick years since we became parents and started this tradition. But as the days are long and the years are quick, there is this snapshot of our lives each Thanksgiving.

Each year is just a little different with new names to the accumulating entries. There is a story being outlined here. There are hearts being shared here. Words written in warm homes, with a glass of wine propped to the side. Thoughts that are set to the tune of toddler giggles and dishes clanking. Read aloud to share over a table full of new faces, the same faces, and of course, way too much food.

There is something special in acknowledging your thoughts, then cementing them to words, to sentences, to paper. There is power when those words are sentiments of gratitude and positivity.

Thanksgiving is the best. It is the proverbial pre-heating the oven for Christmas. My best friend says it is her favourite holiday because it isn't about the presents and festive expectations. It is just about being together and, most importantly, being thankful. I couldn't agree more.

I've found that the Thanksgiving Journal is a simple way to elevate the power of thankfulness in our lives. And we have so, so much to be thankful for.

To read more from Shawna find her on Instagram and at Simple on Purpose - A site all about her family of five trying to live with less stuff, less clothes, less toys, more experiences, more love, more waffles


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