Choose Gratitude

Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is the will of God. (1 Thessalonians 5:18)

Did you know that gratitude is a choice? We must make the conscious effort to count our blessings, to see all that we have, and not focus on all that we do not. It is up to us to fuel our minds and hearts with contentment and peace. This year has brought so many challenges with it. It began to feel as if the choice to be happy, to feel profoundly grateful was becoming more and more difficult. We are still facing major uncertainty and anxiety as the election looms closer, and the pandemic rages on. However, it is important to still breathe in the bounty that surrounds us. There are still so many opportunities to be thankful, and to feel blessed.

The seasons of gratitude, love, peace, and family are upon us. This weekend, families are preparing for the spooky festivities of Halloween. Like everything in 2020, this holiday will look different this year. Traditions will need to be altered, and usual celebrations adjusted. Parents and families are weighing heavily on the best ways to engage in activities – should children wear costumes, what about trick-or-treating, how do we socially distance while handing out candy – so many questions, concerns, and worries that never existed for families before.

As I began to evaluate the holidays, and how to navigate them as a school family in a school setting, I started to realize that there are still so many ways we can celebrate together safely.

We live in a state that enables us to celebrate and have fun outdoors year-round! And for those who do not, so many organizations are providing virtual alternatives to the usual activities – such as virtual trick-or-treating, virtual hayrides, and even virtual haunted houses for the brave! The stores are still stocking our favorite treats and we can indulge in the sweets of the season – including all things pumpkin spice flavored! Carving pumpkins, taking family photos, putting up decorations, watching spooky movies and eating popcorn – so many of the core traditions of the season are still easily available to us. Love, family, togetherness, laughter, and joy are the true takeaway from holiday celebrations. We are blessed, and it is up to us to help spread that feeling. Emphasize all the things you CAN do, when talking with your friends, family, and especially children. For each thing you cannot do, find two things you can. However, you celebrate this weekend, even if it means spending the evening in at home, take a few minutes to absorb your blessings. The comfort of your home, the sweetness of hearing children’s laughter, the glow of a lit jack-o-lantern – make the conscious decision to see what is there, and realize that the things that aren’t, do not hold as much space in your heart.

Happy Halloween!

Prayer Focus: For all the children, families, schools, and neighborhoods celebrating this weekend

Prayer: Dear Lord, help us to see and feel the abundance you provide us. Allow us to open our hearts and minds to the blessings that are in our lives and help us to focus on these when we are struggling to feel thankful. May we always thank You and remember that You provide us with everything we need. Amen

At-Home Activities:

Visit to create your families own virtual trick or treating neighborhood! Connect digitally with friends, family, and neighbors, design your own door, choose which candy to hand out – and more! You can even trick or treat at the Haunted Mansion in Walt Disney World through the Treat Town app!

Take a virtual field trip to a pumpkin patch, watch a hayride, learn how corn mazes are made, or even go through a virtual haunted house on YouTube! Be sure to use YouTube kids if children are navigating the site with mom or dad. There are so many different videos to choose from, including simple videos for younger children.

Have a neighborhood jack-o-lantern show! Ask neighbors to carve or decorate pumpkins, and then stroll or drive through your neighborhood to see all the creative displays!

Have fun in the kitchen by baking pumpkin seeds! You can season them however you want and eat them plain or add them to trail mixes.