The first year after my ex-husband and I decided to divorce was tough, to say the least. I was feeling a bit lost and unsure of what I wanted my “new” future to look like. Because it was so overwhelming, I decided, instead, to appreciate what my PRESENT looked like. And thus began the idea of a “Gratitude Party”.
That first year I invited every person I knew. I set up a white board in my living room. I cooked. I pasted gratitude quotes all around the house. I bought and gave out journals for everyone to take home with them. For months, many told me that they sat with their families every night and wrote down what they were thankful for. I love the practice of thankfulness. It offers a perspective and opens up possibilities.
For a few years following, I skipped the Gratitude party idea. I turned 40 and had a big party to celebrate that. I helped propagate a 40 Days of Thankfulness group on Facebook, challenging each of my friends to give thanks for 40 days and see if it could change their lives… or at the very least create a new outlook on life.
Then, last year, I decided to have another party. Instead of having it at my house, I reserved a space at one of my favorite restaurants where they created a special menu (with awesome pricing) for us. We still had our giant white board where everyone wrote down what they were thankful for. There were no gratitude journals this time but we gave out gratitude stones instead.
We had such a great time that I decided to make it an annual event.
A few weeks ago, my friends and I enjoyed our 3rd Annual Gratitude party. Aside from a few, the group was different than last years… and even different from the first party. The white board was there.
This year, we decided to give back. The restaurant gave us our special menu and was kind enough to donate a gift certificate for a raffle. I told everyone about a charity I hoped to support and asked them to donate or put in money towards the raffle. I am very proud to say that we raised over $600 for New Friends New Life.
As I put the envelope addressed to the charity in the mail, I recalled why I had a gratitude party 5 years ago. It was because I was scared. I had no full time job. I was a mother of two small children. My house was for sale. My marriage was over. The only thing I knew, for certain, was that I was going to be okay. I HAD TO BE. And I was thankful for that.
It turns out, I really was okay. It feels good to finally pay it forward.
“If the only prayer you said in your whole life was, ‘thank you,’ that would suffice.”
~ Meister Eckhart