Gratitude Journal July 2018

4 minute read

Going on vacation next week when my monthly reminder to do this will probably go off, so I figured I’d do this now. What am I grateful for now… let’s see…

Good Experience Today in Sunday School with My Class of 5 Year Olds

I’m co-teaching the 5 year olds at church for an hour on Sundays. There’s an unusually large number in this age group (about 10, whereas most other classes usually have 4-5 kids), so a month ago there were two classes for 5 year olds, but they got merged together. When that happened, not only did we get double the number of kids, we also got a few more spirited ones. I think I really do love all the little kiddies, but some of them are just lower maintenance than others, and less particular than others…
Anyways, without going into details about the difficult stuff, my point was to say today went well. The other teacher wasn’t able to make it, so the Primary Presidency (also grateful for them!) found a last-minute substitute (and him! Brother Mark Ashley who was actually just visiting). I thought we mostly had a good time. The lesson was about gratitude.
We started off with a “wiggles” game, where I asked each one to take turns acting out their favourite animal and letting everyone guess what it was. (If anyone wonders, cats were very popular. I think “cat” was acted out 3 times, and Cheetahs twice…) We talked about how we were grateful for those animals. (Thankfully my daughter Danielle, who’s in the class, forgot her actual favourite “animal” is a unicorn… that would have taken a bit more discussion, but I think the point would have still been made: she’s grateful for something, even if it’s stories of unicorns, despite the fact they don’t really exist.)
Then we took terms mentioning things we were grateful for, and when we did so, we took a spoonful of water out of a bucket and put it into a cup. After a while, the cup started to overflow. I pointed out that when we’re grateful, we can begin to feel like our lives are overflowing with blessings. It was probably a pretty weak analogy, but the kids at least thought about what they’re grateful for and were intrigued.
Next we talked about the story of Jesus and the ten lepers, which reminded them that it’s good to be grateful.
There was a story in there about children receiving hand-knitted dolls by their grandma. One child dismissed the toy, which made the grandma feel a bit sad. Another one was grateful and gave her grandma a big hug, which helped both of them feel happier.
Somewhere in there with the stories one or two kids started to get bored and miss their parents. I’ve previously had an attitude of “hey, if you don’t want to be in class, I don’t want to force you to be in here either! Let’s return you to your parent!” But that hasn’t yielded great results either. Usually the kids are back in 5 minutes anyway, because the parent persuades them to stay in class or they get bored staying with the parent in their class… either way, it’s better for everyone, including the kids, just to stay in class.
So when I sensed a bit of boredom, we moved onto the next activity: singing “Children all over the World“. During the song, the phrase “thank you” is said in various languages. So I made little flags ahead of time with paper and paper straws (we have so paper straws! And they’re so useless! They start to dissolve once you actually use them! Pretty glad to get rid of them). I made a flag for each language (my favourite was the Mexican flag, both because I served a mission there for two years, and because their flag has a patriotic eagle slaying a snake from atop a cactus. Pretty awesome, albeit violent.) So as we sang the song, whenever we said “thank you” in that country’s language, the kid with that flag would start to wave their flag. That was pretty fun anyway. (Although given it’s Canada day today, I’m slightly worried some parents will think I’m non-patriotic given most of the kids came home with non-Canadian flags today… oh well…)
Then we coloured some things we’re grateful for (there were again lots of cats, and one elephant, but we didn’t have a gray crayon which caused some one kid to be a bit pouty), but overall we were pretty happy.
Anyways, yesterday at my WordPress meetup we talked about how most people won’t read a blog post for more than 7 minutes. And I’ve read that 250 words-per-minute, and I’ve written 780 words so far… so you’ve only been reading for probably 4 minutes. I guess I can keep going a bit longer.


I’m grateful for my country. Despite whatever political and organization problems it has, it seems to still be working really well for me, anyway. Power lines are working. Streets work. Nearly no crime in my neighborhood. No corruption of which I’m aware. Education system seems pretty good. No government mass printing money in order to make up for its fiscal irresponsibility which would cause all my life’s savings to vanish. We’re all pretty good.
As usually comes up, though, is the question that the English settlers, from my very limited understanding, basically took the land from the indigenous peoples. So I understand Canada isn’t much to celebrate for them. Which of course always makes me wonder “should us descendants of settlers just move off, or at least sign everything back over, to the indigenous peoples?” In my case, I’m actually not a descendant of settlers though, my parents moved in from Europe. So just because I have white skin doesn’t mean injustice was my fault? Then again, I’m probably a beneficiary of it. I really don’t know. What’s more, when you look back in history, it’s really chalk-full of these injustices everywhere. It seems my Irish family is actually from Northern Ireland and were probably actually English who were sent to settle Ireland and assimilate the Irish (which didn’t seem to have worked too well, given it resulted in splitting the country). So I suppose that’s actually my ancestors doing the injustice there, so that’s a bad example.
A better example which actually comes full circle: I’m apparently 1000th part Mi’kmaq, so my people on that side had the injustice done to them. So I’m actually part of the group who holds claim to this land. So I have no idea what to think.
Anyways, things are pretty good right now in my country for me, and I’m grateful for that.

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