I recently introduced a new element to my son Sage’s bedtime ritual: Each night, he now tells me three things he’s thankful for. He liked postponing bedtime slightly, and I liked cultivating his sense of gratitude, so we were both on board with the idea.
Since Sage is one of those capable-but-lazy sorts, I also stipulated that he couldn’t repeat list items. (If I hadn’t, his list would have looked something like “parents, dog, grandparents” every night; while I’m glad he’s grateful for all three, I figured he probably wouldn’t learn a lot from a repetition that would inevitably become mindless.)
We started the list in November and, despite the occasional missed day, have now accumulated well over 100 “thankful things.” Some of them are nice but unsurprising; in addition to the low-hanging fruit of naming family members and pets, he also listed body parts (wrists, arms, eyes, etc.), toys, and holiday-related items (Santa Claus, Thanksgiving, his school gift exchange, etc.)
After a few days, though, he was running out of obvious list candidates and was forced to get creative; some of the items were just the first things he happened to notice as he looked around the room, but some of them startled me with their insight. Here are some of my favorites:
- Having air to breathe
- Heated homes
- Our dog Court’s collar and tags so he could be identified if he ever got lost
- Being able to choose where to eat
- Being alive
- The protective cases on movies that keep them from getting scratched
- The future
- The word “you” since we would have a hard time communicating without it
- Doorways that allow us to enter and leave rooms
- Right now
- All the strings that make up a blanket
Sage isn’t exactly a philosopher, but I hope that someday he’ll realize that all these things on his list—people and pets, objects and body parts, the air and food and water and love that make his existence possible—are the strings making up the blanket of his life.
I hope it’s a warm one.