A Heaping Serving of Gratitude for Thanksgiving!

How have two months passed without a single blog? It has been an absolute whirlwind of non-stop activity at Growing Kids Therapy Center since September! With all that busyness comes SO much gratitude! Since September: we launched a video about the Power of Words created by 5 amazing kids; threw a spectacular red carpet premiere for the video; hosted Soma, Tito and AEA in our offices in September and October;  held RPM workshops in Eugene Oregon, Seattle Washington, and Atlanta Georgia; welcomed out of state families at our offices in Herndon, Virginia for intensive RPM sessions; and continued to support the work of local families in their RPM journey! Whew! I look forward to a little down time over the holidays to catch up on my writing – I have so many stories to tell!

AppreciateYourLife

THIS moment is about GRATITUDE!  Every second that I work with kids and families is a pure joy. There is nothing more exhilarating than helping a client find their voice! Whether by pointing to choices, finally connecting via pencil or finger to the letter board, overcoming motor challenges to spell a word, a sentence, a paragraph – it is all simply GLORIOUS! To my kids: thank you for your patience, perseverance and your willingness to work so very hard to communicate. To parents: thank you for entrusting me with your child’s learning and communication. You are the constant teachers in your child’s life! To the teachers, OTs, SLPs and caretakers: thank you for your belief and your willingness to open your minds and hearts to a new methodology to teach the kids in your life. To the grandparents, aunts, uncles and siblings who have written lessons, read aloud, and engaged your loved one in new ways: thank you for your unwavering support. To the new RPM families in Eugene/Portland, Seattle and Atlanta: thank you for welcoming me into your lives and for rallying together to support each other and each other’s children. To my fellow RPM practitioners: thank you for your leadership, sharing your insights and reaching out to kids and families everywhere. To the incredibly positive online RPM community: thank you for being the voices around the world sharing, learning and growing together. To my local families: thank you for showing up week after week with a smile on your face and ready for anything.  To my amazing GKTC family – Meghann, Jeanne and Christie: you make all of this possible by organizing, teaching, learning and growing along with me! And finally, to Soma and Tito: thank you for being the creators of RPM, sharing your work and mentoring me through this process! Yes, I have so much gratitude this Thanksgiving – my heart is full and my life is overflowing with incredible people!

And now, my kids would like to express their gratitude. This week, Meghann Parkinson (my fellow GKTC RPMer) and I have been talking to our kids about Thanksgiving. Here is the lesson and their thoughts on gratitude. The responses to the lesson are from Luke, newly 9 years old, who has been communicating with RPM since April 2014. I have included creative writings from additional clients because gratitude is an emotion that is best when shared! (Note: the lesson is presented in regular font, client responses spelled via the letter board are in all caps.)

THANKSGIVING
Known as a day to give thanks for all good things given to us, Thanksgiving is primarily celebrated in the United States and Canada.  With roots in religious and cultural traditions, it is celebrated in a slightly different way depending on the region or culture.  A day set aside for “thanks” can also be found in the Australian territory of Norfolk Island, Liberia, Germany and Japan.

What are we talking about today? THANKSGIVING

What do we give thanks for on Thanksgiving? THE GOOD THINGS IN LIFE

Which two countries are considered prime celebrants of Thanksgiving? US AND CANADA

Name one country, in addition to the U.S. and Canada, that also sets aside a day for “thanks.”  LIBERIA

The most familiar narrative about Thanksgiving is one of a shared meal with family and new friends.  In 1621 Governor William Bradford invited local Wampanoag Indians to join a meal in celebration of their harvest. However, this meal was not formally known as “Thanksgiving” until 1623 when a long period of drought was cured by rain! The Pilgrims of Plymouth, Massachusetts are considered the founding fathers of Thanksgiving.

What is the most familiar narrative about Thanksgiving? FAMILY AND FRIENDS AT DINNER

What year was the first Thanksgiving meal held? 1621

Who did Governor William Bradford invite to Thanksgiving? WAMPANOAG INDIANS

What year did Thanksgiving receive its formal name? 1623

Why did they call it Thanksgiving? CELEBRATING CROPS AFTER LONG DROUGHT

Who are considered the founding fathers of Thanksgiving? PLYMOUTH PILGRIMS

In the United States Thanksgiving is celebrated on the fourth Thursday of November; an annual tradition by presidential proclamation since 1863.  This year Thanksgiving will be celebrated on November 27. Most people have the day off from work and gather with family to take in local parades, attend religious services, enjoy bountiful meals, play flag football or even watch football on television! The Dallas Cowboys and Detroit Lions are guaranteed to play each Thanksgiving; a tradition that dates back to 1920!

What date will Thanksgiving be celebrated this year? NOVEMBER 27

Name one activity that families participate in on Thanksgiving. MAYBE PLAY FLAG FOOTBALL

Don’t forget to wish your friends to the north a Happy Thanksgiving!  Wait!  Canada already had Thanksgiving?  That’s right.  Canada actually celebrates Thanksgiving on the second Monday in October. Canadian Thanksgiving can be traced back to explorer Martin Frobisher in 16th century.  In pursuit of a northern passage to the Pacific Ocean, Frobisher held a Thanksgiving celebration for simply surviving the stormy journey from England. This celebration did not involve a large meal; simply prayer and communion! While you can now find the same culinary trappings as a U.S. Thanksgiving dinner (turkey, stuffing, pumpkin pie), those traditions did not arrive until settlers began to flee the U.S. during the American Revolution.

On what day and month does Canada celebrate Thanksgiving? SECOND MONDAY OF OCTOBER

How did Thanksgiving develop in Canada? ENGLISH EXPLORER FROBISHER WAS GRATEFUL FOR SAFE PASSAGE TO AMERICA

Thanksgiving is known, in general, as a day to give thanks for all good things given to us.  Celebrations will vary by country, region and culture.  On the Australian territory of Norfolk Island Thanksgiving is celebrated on the fourth Wednesday in November when families sell produce to raise money for church upkeep.  Further, they sing religious hymns and share a potluck meal of pork, chicken and pumpkin pie. In Liberia Thanksgiving is observed on the first Monday in November dating back to 1820 and the colonization of freed black slaves from the U.S. Liberian Thanksgiving features concerts, dancing and a meal of chicken and green bean casserole; often served spicy! In Japan Thanksgiving began very much like our own as it gave thanks for harvest.  However, it is now known as Labor Thanksgiving, focused more on thanking workers for doing a good job.  Children even make thank you cards for public servants like firefighters and hospital workers!

Name one reason Thanksgiving celebrations may vary from your own. DEPENDS ON CULTURE

What do citizens of Norfolk Island do on Thanksgiving? NORFOLK ISLAND RAISES MONEY FOR CHURCH ON THANKSGIVING

How do Liberians celebrate Thanksgiving? LIBERIA CELEBRATES FREEDOM FROM SLAVERY

Creative Writing: For this creative writing you may choose one of three options: 1) write a letter of gratitude to anyone or anything for which you are grateful; 2) create a gratitude list (This is a good creative writing option for kids who are just moving into creative writing); 3) compose an acrostic poem using the word THANKSGIVING. The only rule is that you must start your word or sentence with the assigned letter, whether your poem rhymes or not is up to you!

DEAR RPM,
I AM SO GRATEFUL FOR THE CHANGES YOU HAVE MADE IN MY LIFE.  THANKS RPM! NOW MY LIFE IS SO MEANINGFUL.  I LOVE GOING TO SCHOOL NOW THAT SCHOOL IS FINALLY CHALLENGING ME!  THIS IS A WHOLE NEW LIFE FOR ME!
LOVE,
LUKE

DEAR FAMILY,
ON THIS THANKSGIVING DAY, I AM WRITING TO TELL YOU HOW THANKFUL I AM FOR YOU.  DEAR DAD I AM THANKFUL FOR BEING SO HEART FILLED TOWARD ME. EACH MORNING I LOVE CUDDLING WITH YOU.  AMALIA HOW SWEET IT IS TO BE YOUR SISTER.  I ALWAYS DEAR SISTER, LOVE SPENDING TIME WITH YOU.  MOM, I AM THANKFUL FOR YOU.  EACH DAY HEAVEN’S GLORY KEEPS TELLING ME THAT I AM LUCKY TO BE A PART OF THE FAMILY.  TOO MANY FAMILIES DO NOT SHOW THEIR LOVE EACH DAY. FAMILY IS TOP PRIORITY, MEANS EVERYTHING TO ME.  A LOT OF NEW TEACHINGS THIS YEAR THANKS TO RPM. EACH DAY IS NOW A REALLY, ALREADY AWESOME OPPORTUNITY TO SPEAK TO YOU.
GRACIELA  (lesson completed with her mom on Thanksgiving vacation).

I AM THANKFUL FOR THE CHANCE TO WRITE THIS LETTER FOR YOU, MY FAMILY.  I THANK MOM AND DAD AND CHARLY FOR THEIR LOVE AND INSPIRATION. I THANK RPM WITH ELIZABETH AND MEG.  I THANK ANOTHER, MY SISTER FOR HER STRENGTH AND LOVING HEART.
WlLLIAM (lesson completed with Meghann Parkinson at GKTC)

THANKSGIVING IS NEAR
HAVING FAMILY AROUND BRINGS CHEER.
ALWAYS TAKE TIME TO REALLY LISTEN TO LIFE
NEVER FOCUS ON STRIFE.
KNOWING YOUR BLESSINGS IS THE KEY
SECURING YOUR HAPPINESS, LISTEN TO ME.
GIVING, NOT GETTING, CAN SHOW YOU THE WAY
TRY TO DO THIS EVERY DAY.
VERY SOON YOU CAN CREATE A HABIT
KNOW HAPPINESS EXISTS, REACH OUT AND GRAB IT.
NEVER GIVE UP ON YOUR AMBITION
GRATITUDE WILL BRING DREAMS TO FRUITION.
Ben

All of us at Growing Kids Therapy Center wish you all a gratitude filled Thanksgiving! I am always grateful to you who read this blog and share it with others! As our gift to you, I have posted this Thanksgiving lesson in its entirety on the GKTC website. Sit down with a letter board and someone you love and share a little thanks! ~Elizabeth

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