By the time my husband John and I were married four years we had two children. One thing we struggled with over the years was merging our different backgrounds to create our own family traditions.

For instance, how to celebrate a birthday. I have my own ideas about that. The day begins with breakfast in bed, served on the best china and crystal, and includes balloons, flowers and little surprises throughout the day. Then there is a huge supper with family and friends, thoughtful gifts and an exquisite birthday cake from my favourite bakery, sweet gallery (and only Sweet Gallery). telegrams from abroad are a welcomed touch. and of course ending the evening with a romantic chat followed by a whole lot of “that.”

My poor husband! Before we met, birthdays were just another day, with a gift or possibly a phone call thrown in. You can imagine my shock when I discovered this – and his reaction to it

And then there is Christmas, Mother’s day, easter, Labour Day and, well, you get the idea.

One year we started a new tradition, one that is uniquely our own and I relish in it. It’s so exciting and so much fun. It’s a Thanksgiving tradition. As we’re driving up to Lindsay, Ont., to have Thanksgiving dinner with John’s dad and his brothers and sisters, we compile a list of 101 things we’re grateful for, things specific to the past year. John drives, I write:

“I am grateful for our new son. What are you grateful for?”
“I’m grateful for my lovely, beautiful wife. What are you grateful for?”
“I’m grateful for my patient and supportive husband. What are you grateful for?”
“I’m grateful for our minivan making it through another year. What are you grateful for?”

We go back and forth. Searching our hearts for all that warrants a deliberate thanks. … our health care system … 24-hour grocery stores (great for diapers and other necessities) … telephones … the motivation to start swimming … a new computer … hot milk … our daughter’s ophthamologist … our children’s health … no rent increase … Baskin and Robbins ice-cream … conferences at Franciscan University of Steubenville, Ohio … great talks given by Sr. Ann Shields at the Lift Jesus Higher Rally … a surprise birthday party … our Catholic Church … Fr. Casper’s homemade strawberry jam … the family Enrichment Parenting Course … food and shelter … air conditioning … credit cards … the zoo … drive-thru donut shops and hamburger joints … Vera’s visit from Hawaii … Maja’s babysitting stint with our daughter, while our son was being born … Canada … freedom … our brass bed … Margaret and peter’s amazing suppers … my mom and all of her help and generosity … our clients … all of the visitors, cards and gifts we got for our new son … parental classes at St. Joseph’s Health Centre … a trip to Ireland, Scotland and England … my Mother’s Group … the production Ragtime … the Internet … the sunny weather … Donny Osmond.

That year we got up to 104. What are you grateful for?

This is reprinted with permission from the book, Motherhood Matters, written by Dorothy Pilarski, published by
Catholic Register Books ISBN 13: 978-0-9784389-5-1

Dorothy Pilarski is the founder of Dynamic Women of Faith, author, Catholic radio host, motivational speaker, blogger, guest columnist with the Catholic Register and a facilitator on Salt + Light TV.

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