365 Grateful blog

Guest Post - Amy Gill - Tis the season to be thankful...

Hailey Bartholomew - Sunday, November 27, 2011

We welcome in the Christmas season with some wonderful wisdom from Amy.


‘Tis the season to be jolly, Fa la la la la la la la la….

Really already?

I am not sure where the year has gone or how it is possibly the start of December this week, but it is, and so the most crazy, busy, stressful, financially draining and exhausting weeks of the year begin.

But to be honest, I don’t see it like that at all. Let me start again….

I am not sure where the year has gone or how it is possibly the start of December this week, but it is, and so the most wonderful, joyful, family-centered, season of giving begins.  Bring it on!

I love Christmas. I love the parties; the way people get together and rejoice in each other’s company. I love the atmosphere out and about – carolers, decorations and excitement in the air. I love the smell of pine throughout my house and the giggling of my girls at the slightest thought of anything christmassy.

But most of all, I love the traditions that come with Christmas. I am grateful for the traditions my parents established for us as we grew up – fresh Christmas trees every year; setting up the nativity set without baby Jesus who would magically appear on Christmas day; reading ‘The Night before Christmas’ after mass on Christmas eve before we would set out food for Santa and his reindeer. My girls now follow the same traditions and have some new ones to call their own. We now make a point of travelling to the city to see the Christmas windows; our advent calendar brings gifts from Christmas angels; and our Santa photo experiences are traditionally a disaster! All these things add to the season and they make me happy.

This year I also wanted to start two new traditions with my girls. The first stems from something my mum did when I was younger. Mum would often make up a hamper of food and presents at Christmas time for a family in need. It was a different family every year. Mum would find a way each time to anonymously deliver the hamper to this family.  One year the hamper went to a family of a lady mum worked with. The lady didn’t know me so mum dressed me up as an elf and sent me off to deliver the hamper. I will never forget the look of gratitude in her husband’s eyes as I gave him the hamper. “Who is this from?” He asked. “Santa,” I replied. “Thank you. Thank you.” Hopefully, our new tradition will teach my girls that it is more important to give than receive.

The second tradition I want to start is centered around gratitude. Each day when we mark off a day on our advent calendar I want us to write down something we are grateful for as a family. I want to string these pieces of gratitude together and hang them around our tree.  This is what I want Christmas to be about for our family – gratitude. Gratitude for all that we have had throughout the year; gratitude that we have our health and each other; gratitude that we have a house over our head, food on our table, presents under the tree.

Christmas should be a time to celebrate each other and give thanks for all that is good in our lives. Maybe it is time to start a new tradition in your house too?

And while you are thinking about what that tradition might be, spare a thought for poor mothers everywhere, trying to get the perfect Santa photo to place on the mantelpiece 

Guest Post: Lori 'We met in Boston, remember?"

Hailey Bartholomew - Sunday, September 11, 2011

It is has been a while since we heard from the lovely Lori, our New York guest poster.  Please visit her wonderful site  "100 Thank Yous"

From Lori:

I love to read.  I love to carry books around with me and leave them in stacks around my home, just waiting to be read.  Books are one of the things I am most grateful for in the world. 

One of my favorite authors is David Sedaris.   He is witty, honest, and brilliant and throws in just the right about of sarcasm and charm that make his writing irresistible.  Most of his stories are about pieces of his life, often filled with such craziness it is nearly awful and yet he shares it with hilarity and kindness, reminding me of the flawed humanness that exists in all of us.

One morning while on a weekend trip to Boston, I was traveling around town with my step-daughter while my husband was working.  We were browsing in a neighborhood bookstore when I over heard a man say, “Hello, I’m David Sedaris.” I whipped my head around, star struck.  There he was in person, doing a book-signing.  We immediately bought his latest book and walked up to where he was sitting. 

He asked if Katie was my daughter.  We both replied, “step-daughter” in unison.  David smiled, leaned in toward Katie and said in a slightly wicked voice, “I see.  Is she an eeee-vil step-mother?”  Katie thought that was the funniest thing she had ever heard.  Then he signed my book, “We met in Boston, remember?” 

I have to say that meeting David changed the course of the rest of the day for Katie and me.  We started out the morning a little tired and stressed, unsure of how we were going to spend our day.  The surprise of meeting David lightened things up for us.  We were more fun-loving and grateful and met the rest of the day knowing that wonderful new surprises could be right around the corner.

I made this painting for David Sedaris as part of my Hundred Thank Yous project.  I am very grateful for my brief encounter with him that day in Boston.  It still makes me smile every time I think about it.

Link to David Sedaris: 

365 Grateful - a documentary about the extraordinary power of gratitude.

Guest Post - Amy - Creative Gratitude

Hailey Bartholomew - Saturday, August 20, 2011

This week we have one of our regular guest posters: Amy, thank you , for another delightful post!

"There is such a place as fairyland - but only children can find the way to it. And they do not know that it is fairyland until they have grown so old that they forget the way. One bitter day, when they seek it and cannot find it, they realize what they have lost; and that is the tragedy of life. On that day the gates of Eden are shut behind them and the age of gold is over. Henceforth they must dwell in the common light of common day. Only a few, who remain children at heart, can ever find that fair, lost path again; and blessed are they above mortals. They, and only they, can bring us tidings from that dear country where we once sojourned and from which we must evermore be exiles. The world calls them its singers and poets and artists and story-tellers; but they are just people who have never forgotten the way to fairyland."

    Lucy Maud Montgomery (The Story Girl)

Over the past few weeks I have had the utmost pleasure of rediscovering, through an old friend, the wonderful and inspiring words of Lucy Maud Montgomery.  You all know Montgomery, I am sure - writer of the classic tales of Anne Shirley.

Anne Shirley has always been my heroine. So much so, the Anne in my daughters name came as a result of the effect Anne Shirley had on my life. I used to think I was Anne of Green Gables and would lie by the lake reciting poetry praying that Gilbert Bligh would sweep my off my feet. I became a teacher, just like Anne. I am a dreamer, just like Anne and now, as I get older I am becoming a storyteller, just like Anne. Maybe, just maybe, I am the modern Anne of Avonlea?

All this got me to thinking of the power of story telling. I am a creative person – a drama and music teacher. I don’t think mathematically or scientifically, I think with my heart.  Books, music, theatre, photography, art, architecture all awaken my soul.  Without creative inspiration I would be lost.

So today I am grateful for my dear friend who has brought me back to Montgomery. You are a kindred spirit through and through.

I am grateful for Montgomery whose literature makes my heart sing, Anne Shirley who set my imagination free and all storytellers whose words can have such a profound affect on our souls.

I am grateful to my friend Kim who I love sharing books with.

I am grateful for creativity, for imagination. Grateful for music, art, and my beloved theatre.

I am grateful for Hailey Bartholomew whose photography was my saving grace.  You are a creative genius!

And most of all I am grateful for the opportunity to share my story through 365.

I think Montgomery also understood the power of gratitude –

"I believe the nicest and sweetest days are not those on which anything very splendid or wonderful or exciting happens, but just those that bring simple little pleasures, following one another softly, like pearls slipping off a string."

    Lucy Maud Montgomery

Be creative. Start a 365 grateful project today in whatever medium inspires you!

365 Grateful - a documentary about the extraordinary power of happiness