The jar contains so much but nothing at all. From an outsider’s perspective, my jar is plain. It is a simple mason jar, with a red sparkly ribbon tied around it. It is filled to the brim with folded up pieces of printer paper. It sits near the front door, surrounded by a notepad from Dollar Tree and a pen. Inconspicuous, boring, basic. Not at all an extravagant holiday tradition. But this jar is filled with blessings. Literally.
My family doesn’t have too many traditions for Thanksgiving. We practice common traditions, but nothing personalized or special. We spend the whole day in the kitchen. My dad carves a turkey; my mom prepares the sides. Sometimes we have family or neighbors to share the feast, but other times it’s just us. After about 9 hours of strenuous labor and overwhelming preparation, we gather around our dining room table with a dinner fit for kings. We bow our heads, and pray. But before we dive into our meal, I grab the jar. I pick up the first sheet of paper and open it. Scrawled across the paper in chaotic handwriting reads the phrase “I am thankful for my family.” I read the phrase out loud and smile. Then the jar gets passed down to the next person, my sister.
She reads the next one, “I am thankful for my legs, so I can dance”
Then the next person goes, “I am thankful for my dog and the joy he brings me.”
“I am thankful for electricity and heat during winter”
“I am thankful for sunshine.”
“I am thankful for school, and the blessing of education.”
“I am thankful for Netflix.”
“I am thankful for a safe and friendly neighborhood.”
“I am thankful for Taylor Swift.”
“I am thankful for my beautiful life.”
As the last note is read out loud, we begin our dinner.
The jar of blessings is a simple vessel my family uses in order to reflect. We are given so many opportunities in life, so many wonderful gifts that often go unnoticed. Day by day, it is easy to look at the negatives. I sometimes look at junior year and school as the worst time of my life. I look at sunshine on hot days as suffocating and synonymous with death and despair. I look at my life through a negative lens, just because I can. We can complain about weather, grades, and rude people, because we are blessed with the opportunity to do so. One day a year, my family uses the jar of blessing, to change our mindset. Little gifts and big ones can impact our lives in ways virtually undetectable if we don’t have time to realize it.
Some blessings in the jar are silly, but equally important. Although Netflix isn’t necessarily a deep observation, it grants us time to relax after a long, hard day. Although Taylor Swift is just a celebrity, she uses her lyrics as a tool to relate to her listeners. Even the small things in life can add up. We don’t normally look at our legs as a blessing, but they give us a way to exercise and express ourselves. Texting allows us to quickly communicate with friends whenever we need. Candles can brighten and fill a room with sweet fragrance. The jar of blessings’ purpose is to look at the big and small, stupid and serious, and allow us to understand how lucky we are.
Big parts of life can go unnoticed, too. I can admit to taking my family, my friends and the opportunities I have to live and grow up the way I do for granted. I am so blessed to live in Lovejoy and have such a supportive community of teachers and students that allow me to excel academically. I am so blessed to have supportive parents that want the best for me, even when I can’t see it. I am so blessed to have best friends that love me for all my mistakes and embrace my flaws. I am so blessed to be fearfully and wonderfully made.
Thanksgiving and the jar of blessings gives me time to realize how amazing life is. It is truly all about perception. We can look at life through a lens of hopelessness and anguish, constantly dreading the next day. Or we can watch our lives bloom through a lens of positivity and thankfulness. I have noticed that if we begin to change our perspectives, our lives can change, too. You can allow yourself to form more relationships, become happier, and make others happy, too. I encourage everyone to use Thanksgiving as a time of reminiscing and reflection. You can even start a jar and fill it with your own blessings.