Our Thankfulness Garland

By Katie Helmreich

I have been chasing after my youngest all day, cleaning up one mess after another. She glued a kitchen towel to the counter “on accinent.” The bathroom was so covered in green watercolor paint it looked like a leprechaun had met a violent end. The kids started fighting the moment I picked them up from school. There are toys all over the living room, and now I’ve got a “kitty” climbing all over me meowing enthusiastically and making loud licking noises.

It’s been a long day. But as I roll my eyes I see our garland and am encouraged over and over again! God is good. 

Our Thankfulness Garland began as a yard of string and a few squares of scrapbook paper. We were in a challenging season on several fronts. The list of problems felt a mile long, and trying to count our blessings seemed like a strangely daunting task. So at the beginning of November, we started finding at least one thing from each day we were thankful for and adding them to our Thankfulness Garland:

  • Playing hockey in gym class
  • Waffles for breakfast
  • Learning a new song
  • A great audiobook
  • A funny bedtime story
  • Tape
  • Sunshine …

Once we got going, the momentum of gratitude was incredible! The day started to look completely different. God had been with us in all these things!

These beautiful blessings all hung together made my heart sing! It was hard to read them since they all kind of clumped together, so I dug around in my fabric stash for bits and pieces to add to the garland. In the next couple of weeks we kept adding fabric and writing more tags. Before long we had to extend the garland to make room! It was still a crazy November, things didn’t really get much easier, but every day we had more blessings to add to the garland!

“I will give thanks to the LORD with my whole heart; I will recount all of your wonderful deeds.” Psalm 9:1

This is now the third year we’re adding to our Thankfulness Garland. We’re in a better place these days, and I’m intensely grateful for the growth God has worked in each of us in the past couple years.

Seeing this banner over our family always feels like a hug! We love looking back at all these blessings, big and small, serious and silly, prayers answered, family and friends.

It struck me this year, as I added another six feet to the garland, that even here in 2020 we have confidence in God’s future faithfulness! A small bag filled with blank tags and sharpie markers is always within arms reach of the dinner table. We’ll giggle over some of them and get teary eyed over others, and in all things we will thank our God! And our garland will hang up above us reminding us, even in the midst of chaos, of how very dearly we are loved by our Heavenly Father. I wonder how many years it will take us to make it go all the way around our house!

There are so many different ways to begin a similar tradition of thankfulness. Write on post-its and see if you can cover a wall in your house. Use homemade tags, or buy a pack ready to go. Draw pictures! Hang up photos, the stamp from a special card, or pictures torn from magazines. Add fabric, leaves, ribbon, or yarn if that’s your thing. You could fill in a blank calendar with blessings from each day. Creating tags could be part of Thanksgiving dinner celebrations or become part of the daily routine. 

There’s no season limit for thankfulness! We’ve left ours up until Easter at least once and added to it whenever something special struck us.

It’s been a long day, BUT I’m thankful for the roses in the center of the table, for the color turquoise, for the fact that Ben is coming home early from his business trip, and for the chance to share a bit while I refocus today.

I’m also thankful to discover that the reason Jane keeps dumping out the bag of tags is not just to create a mess; it’s so that her little people can jump in the leaves. Somehow that makes it better. I’ll help her write about jumping in the leaves on a tag later! Our garland has helped cultivate a habit of daily thankfulness; and thankfulness can change your perspective!

“Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever!”
1 Chronicles 16:34

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