I try to do some kind of project every November, to wind down from 31 Days and get my mind (and heart) in the right place before Christmas (and this year, a birthday). A couple of years ago, I read/started One Thousand Gifts, by Ann Voskamp, and while I was picking up her advent devotional (The Greatest Gift) last week, I spotted a stack of Operation Christmas Child boxes by the register and snagged a couple.
I've found that doing something for someone else is a good way to shift my train of thought onto a more grateful line. When we lived in Fayetteville, I did a box every year, but I couldn't find a drop-off location here last year so I had to skip it. One thing I've always tried to do is add something handmade - a few years, I managed to knit teddy bears (which I prefer, because they're not race-specific. It is ridiculously hard to find a doll that isn't white skinned and/or blue eyed/blonde headed) but I don't have time for that this year. So I turned to my speedy backup, crochet, and made a handful of balls for each box. (Soft Sphere pattern available for free here).
With a little time (and a little space) left over once I got everything else that I wanted to, now I'm working on some knitted washcloths. Just simple squares (cast on 27 stitches on size 8 needles with worsted weight cotton, knit until square, bind off) with fun yarn - it's a perfect project to tuck into my purse. I made an entire one during a Bible study on Tuesday morning, and about half of another during an afternoon get-together with a friend. They don't require much concentration, which also makes them perfect for praying over the recipient while knitting (my primary reason for wanting to add something handmade, anyway).
Another box to fill is this Family 2 Family one from our church - $15 worth of groceries, plus $7 for a chicken, to provide Christmas dinner for a family. I am always convicted over how little it takes (dietary restrictions wreak havoc on our grocery budget)... we took care of the shopping this morning (Brooklyn was beyond thrilled to hold a bag of rice and a box of corn muffin mix for me), so now all that's left is to add a card.
Gratitude has to go beyond just saying thank you (to God, to others, to anyone/anything in general) to actually acting on it - to recognizing the blessings that are given to us, and immediately turning around to pour them out on others.
2105. Adam, home
2106. Evening walks and good conversation
2107. New beginnings
2108. Vulnerability and open discussion in a safe place
2109. Beginning and completing a knitted washcloth, on the same day (gives me hope that I can actually finished more than one apiece before our Operation Christmas Child boxes need to be turned in)
2110. Adam going to the grocery store after he got home from work, and taking Brooklyn with him
2111. A jammie morning
2112. The headache I'd had for two days finally clearing up
2113. Chocolate-dipped peppermint-cover gluten-free pretzels
2114. A lull in the rain just as we got home
2115. Ending up behind Adam on the highway as we went to meet him downtown - I'd have never found where he parked otherwise!
2116. Sales and gift cards equaling the exact amount the groceries I got for Family 2 Family cost, making them essentially free