As we look toward the holiday season, I want to make a commitment this year to be thankful. I have three beautiful children. I love my house, my family, and my community. I have so much to be thankful for!

I want to teach my children to be thankful for all of the things they have. All of the people that support us and love us.

Think of all of your blessings, and be thankful for who and what you have in your life!

Living in Colorado, I love taking each weather season as it comes (sometimes all in one day – don’t always love that so much!), and the fact that we have seasons. I love visiting tropical places and very much enjoy my beach time, but give me Fall, Winter, Spring and Summer at home any day and I’m happy.

Watching the changes in each season – Mother Nature’s way to show us that change is part of life and life goes on – helps me remember that change is good!

We all also have seasons of our lives. As the mom who is also the primary parent at home, I know that this is a season – one that will not last much longer with my youngest starting Kindergarten next year. The next season will give me a little more time for myself, for work or other pursuits, while I’ll still be on call for my kids. But it’s not here yet!

Sunshine always refreshes me – and we have a lot of days of sun in Colorado, year-round!

I also love holidays! We just had a great time giving our kids a fun Halloween party, and I spent the better part of my weekend last week taking down all the various jack-o-lanterns, witches, bats, and other Halloween décor. I left all of my pumpkins and leaves up – and replaced the witches and bats with Pilgrims and turkeys.

Don’t get me wrong, I love the Christmas season too – and I have boxes and boxes of Christmas décor that I will pull out at the end of this month! Just not yet! I know it is all a lot of work. But, take the time to enjoy the now. Just as I advise people to enjoy each phase with your kids, enjoy each season and each holiday as it comes!

Ladies and gents, don’t forget that November is our time to be thankful. The dinner that we celebrate at the end of this month is all about cultures coming together, gathering the bounties of the harvest, and sitting down to eat a meal. This is our month to celebrate that!

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays! All the food – and the whole reason behind it – make for the best family dinner!

Just as I am a huge advocate for regular family dinners as many times a week as you can, I think making Thanksgiving special is one of my favorite memories I have from my childhood. We always dressed the table, used our special dishes, and dressed up a little bit. And my mom (well, my parents, but it’s my mom’s favorite holiday) always hosted all of the extended family as well as any friends who may not have a place to go.

What are your Thanksgiving traditions?

One of the other things we always do is to go around the table before the start of the meal, and everyone – from youngest to oldest or vice versa – says one thing that they are especially thankful for that year. We take that few minutes to reflect on what is really important. Our family, our health, jobs, life.

Some of my friends have recently followed the tradition of posting one thing each day that they are thankful for in November. I love this! If you are moved to do it, I so enjoy reading everyone’s thoughts!

Always, always thankful for all of the Veterans who have served on our behalf.

Yesterday, we celebrated Veteran’s Day. I am so thankful for all Veteran’s – especially those in our family who have served – and so appreciate their work, their daily sacrifices, and their willingness to serve. My mom brought our kids little GI Joe figures this weekend, and told them that the kids in their church gave them out on Sunday morning, and asked the other kids to pray for our soldiers, every time they pick up the figure. What a powerful thing to do! I love this!

November also starts the birthday season in our house. With three kids who all have birthdays from now until just after New Year’s, we try to make birthdays special, and we spread the gifts out. Starting in September or October, I can finally start reminding my kids that they have birthdays and Christmas coming up, so if there are toys they want (all of them?!?), they need to decide which things they want the most!

Birthdays are a big deal, and we should always celebrate!

During the rest of the year, I make my kids work to achieve a goal or do some chores or work on some kind of good behavior in order to get a new toy that they want (the middle child is still working on that whole chew with your mouth closed challenge). But during the birthday/holiday season we want to give them the things they’ve been asking for, within reason. We want to fulfill their dreams!

How do we give them the things that they want, while also instilling an appreciation for the things that they have? Teach them to be thankful!

So, my biggest goal this month is to do some new things to teach my children thankfulness. I have been trying to have them help clean up all of their toys each time they get them out. We don’t always do this every day, but several times a week we clean up the living room and play area, and each of their bedrooms. I use this to show them how much they already have. And when they ask for something new, I ask them where they plan to put it!

We also try to ask our kids’ teachers if there is a family or a child (or more than one) in their classes who may need a Secret Santa for Christmas, and we sponsor that child/family. We are very fortunate, and we do not take that for granted. I would challenge all of you to do the same!

As we all gear up for the busy-ness of the holiday season, remember to be thankful. Share the things you are thankful for – whether it is a post on social media for all the world to see, or a quick minute of thanks at your Thanksgiving table. And encourage those around you to give thanks for all that they have. Pray for those who don’t. Give what you can to the charities of your choice – from your spare pocket change to the Salvation Army to a giving tree gift from your local supermarket, or whichever group you are moved to help. Let us all be thankful and giving. We are so blessed to be here and to live in the greatest country in the world.

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