Category Archives: traditions

An Attitude of Gratitude

It’s a tough time of year for me come fall. The sun doesn’t shine as long, the leaves fall from the trees after a magnificent burst of color as they dance toward death before winter, and the skies are nowhere near as bright in the middle of October as they are at the height of July. Toss anything else in that mix and I start digging a rabbit hole to crawl into until Spring.

Gratitude JarThis year, I decided to do my very best to keep out of that rabbit hole. In addition to my SAD Lamp, I created a Gratitude Jar. I don’t remember where I first saw the idea (probably Pinterest), but it struck me as something easy I could do that would help all of us focus on the positive instead of wallowing in the depths of The Nothing that surrounds us like a parasite through the fall and winter months.

I posted a picture of my Gratitude Jar on Facebook and a friend immediately asked me how I did it. I promised her a blog post about it, complete with printables. So here we are!

Step 1: Buy a jar. Or use one you have at home. I found a really fantastic one at the local Goodwill for less than $2.00. You’ll want a smaller jar or vase to hold the strips you’ll print out for writing just what it is you’re grateful for every day.

Step 2: Create a label. I used Microsoft Word. Chose a Gift Certificate Template and adjusted it to my needs. I replaced the wording with a description of what to do as well as a couple of inspirational quotes related to gratitude. I used this list at Inc for quotes. (40 really great ones!) Based on your jar size, you may need a different label. Feel free to play around in Word and create your own. The one I made fit my jar perfectly.

Step 3: Cut out the label. Using a simple glue stick (borrowed from a school age child), glue said label onto jar. Place face down on a hard surface (I had to put it in the middle of our dining room table so the cat wouldn’t bat it off onto the ground).

Step 4: Again, using Word, I created a simple one column table the length of the page, and simple copied and pasted the words “I’m grateful for” in each row, leaving plenty of space to write a few things. Print, and cut out. I used a paper cutter but you could use scissors. The nice thing about doing it this way is that instead of buying a pad of paper, you can just print and refill as needed.

Gratitude Jar LocationStep 5: Set up the Gratitude Jar in a place that makes it easy to use. A common area but not in the way of anything. As you see, I have the Gratitude Jar on one side, and the little vase with the strips on the other side of a gorgeous vase that sits on our game cabinet in our dining room. So far, it works well. (We’re on day 4, I think.)

And that’s it. Easy peasy. While I am having to stretch to think of something for which I am grateful every day, it’s a good habit to have. Positive thinking matters.

And now, for the printables:

Gratitude Jar Labels

Gratitude Strips

Go forth and be filled with gratitude! Oh, and you’ll notice that there are TWO Gratitude Jar Labels on the printable. Make one for a friend and share the gratitude!

Thank you, South Carolina

This past Sunday.

We all know what the day meant. What it marked. How we spent it.

I spent it in my car, driving to Georgia.

I had decided not to blog about the day after a brief conversation with a friend on Twitter. To spend the day in solemn remembrance and thought about the events of 10 years ago.

At 840am, I turned off my music and turned on NPR. They were covering the ceremonies of the day. The first moment of silence at Ground Zero at 846am. The second moment of silence. A third moment of silence at the Pentagon. Shanksville, PA.

A few tears slid down my face as I listened to the silence. As I listened to the names being read aloud.

And then.

Oh and then.

As my car zoomed at 70+ mph down 85 in Spartanburg, SC, the tears streamed down my face as I rounded a bend and headed toward the first of one of several overpasses in the “metro” area. I wish I could have snapped a photo but given the speed at which I was traveling, I was unable to do so. (I was also unable to safely pull off to the side to get a photo as well – traffic was not amenable to this)

This overpass, covered in huge American flags, filled with Americans, waving, and remembering the tragic events which occurred 10 years ago, dug deep into my soul and heart.

Not the silence in NYC. Not the names read aloud. Not the description of a man who was the only one of 5 to survive at the Pentagon near where the plan struck the building. But this.

Real Americans. Patriotic Americans dedicated to not forgetting.

Sure, those in NY are real Americans. But I wasn’t there. I wasn’t part of their event. I was removed. But this, this in your face dedication and remembrance, I was part of this.

And now, this memory, this beautiful remembrance, has joined the memories I hold in my head as many of us do, of the horrific events of September 11, 2001. While still unfathomably tragic, the memories in my head now have a bookend of beauty and of perseverance.

Thank you, Spartanburg, SC, for giving me this beautiful memory to add to such a dark time in our nation’s history.

A Typical Southern New Year’s Meal

First things first, Happy New Year’s!

Now onto the post. I know it’s a bit of a deviation from the standard but hey, never too late for some cultural education! And if it’s part of your Resolution then I’m helping ya down the right road. (you’re welcome, by the way)

Here in the South, we have a standard New Year’s Meal we consume in order to bring good luck to the year to come. (And after the year we just had we need ALL the luck we can get!) Our in-laws will be providing this meal today (straight from Cracker Barrel but hey, food is food and Cracker Barrel knows a few things about doing homestyle food right!)

The first component of this meal we’ll go over is the black-eyed pea. This humble starchy veg is actually native to Africa and found its way to the deep south via the West Indies. It’s actually a healthy little thing if not prepared with hamhocks, bacon, and fatback. The Black-Eyed pea is full of calcium, folate, and Vitamin A. So the next time you try to justify a big serving of Black-Eyed peas, you can spout those little advantages off to the diet part of your brain and start counting calories and crunches tomorrow.

The history of eating the black eyed peas for luck dates all the way back to the Egyptians and was brought to Georgia via Jewish Tradition. To read more about the history of this tiny veg, click here.

The second component to the meal, greens, be they collard, turnip, mustard, or whatever your preference may be, is typically consumed to aid in the coming of money. This tradition is not as easily traced as even the Wikipedia article needs citation regarding the reference. Allegedly the reference to money doesn’t lie within the color but the shape – the leaves appear to be folded money. The nutritional value of greens is out of the ballpark too – just don’t expect the manner in which they are prepared down here in the South to keep you fit and trim!

Cornbread is also standard fare as is some sort of pork whether it be Roast Pork, Pork Chop, Country Ham, Roasted Ham, or whatever form you prefer your pork to take. There does not seem to be any tradition or superstition in the inclusion of the two of these foods other than the assumption that these were two of the items also not destroyed by Yankee Soldiers during the Civil war as they were thought unfit to eat and thereby allowed Southerners to survive. Don’t quote me on that though.

I was a good little Damned Yankee (that’s a Yankee transplant who moves South and STAYS) today and gobbled up my New Year’s Meal. I then promptly fell asleep, also like a good little Damned Yankee!