Feel Good

Gratitude Pumpkins

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By Britt Riner 

A fall family favorite for years in America has been carving pumpkins.

Yet a new riff on the seasonal tradition might just have families and friends smiling much longer than the most professionally chiseled jack-o’-lantern can last. 

Introducing the gratitude pumpkin!

To start, all you need is a pumpkin, a permanent marker and thankful thoughts. If you have a lot of the latter, you may want to pick up more than one pumpkin.

(Note: Do not try washable markers. You’ll just have an orange dry-erase board.)

Then, every day in the month of October, adopt the practice of asking yourself and your family members something for which you are grateful. 

Don’t underestimate what little thankful engines the smallest ones in your home can be. While moms and dads might also serve as gratitude muses here and there, let your kids become the gratitude generators. 

Seeing children run through the typical (though still important!) ideas of gratitude and then begin to identify deeper ideas of gratitude is fascinating and rewarding.

You can help them do this by asking open-ended questions such as, “What’s your favorite thing to do with Dad?” or “What was your happiest day this year?”

While they may start with “I’m grateful for my LEGOS,” this practice can help kids as young as toddler age uncover the blessings in their own families and communities and bind families closer together.

Lest you find this activity banal, consider the origins of the jack-o’-lantern: Celtic communities hollowed out turnips (and other vegetables) to create scary images that would ward off evil spirits and protect their homes. 

So what better way to guard your home from the Grinch and other holiday hassles than to start cultivating a spirit of gratitude right now? 

Cicero said gratitude was the “mother” of all human feelings, neuroscientists have proven that gratitude creates and strengthens healthy neural pathways — and your gratitude pumpkin will quite literally speak for itself. 

Try it and see how it goes. Since gratitude begets gratitude, you just may end up with a whole patch of the season’s favorite fruit.

November 23, 2022

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