A week or so ago I taught a workshop for a local group of refugee women in which we made what I called a Gratitude Calendar. I have always been a huge fan of advent calendars, and that general concept gave me the idea for a calendar that was more universal and appropriate to a variety of cultures and views. In the workshop, we actually folded origami masu boxes—one for each of thirty-one days in December—and filled each with a piece of candy. The boxes were glued to a board, the lids stamped with numbers for the dates and the idea was for the user to open each box on its particular date, remove (and enjoy!) the candy, and then replace the candy with a slip of paper upon which the user would write something that they were grateful for in 2011. At the end of the month—on New Year’s Eve or Day—the boxes would again be opened, the slips of paper read and a strong sense of gratitude for not only the year that had passed, but for the opportunities that laid ahead.
I loved this idea so much that I decided to create a new version for myself. (But, I was tired of folding paper at this point, since the masu version takes 62 pieces when you have to make a box plus a lid for each day.) For my personal version, I used a piece of painted canvas as a backing since I felt it represented my creative focus for most of the year. I then stamped numbers for the month’s dates on simple muslin and sewed them to squares of cheerful colored felt, making each square a pocket that was sewn to a larger piece of muslin. I rolled up tiny pieces of paper and slid one in each pocket.
Starting tonight—December 1st, I shall take out that slip of paper and on it write something that I am grateful for from this year. I think I’ll light a candle as I do this. At the end of the year I will put my little calendar away, and next year, when I reuse the calendar, each day I will pull out a slip of paper that I wrote on this year, and will be reminded of all the goodness I experienced. I’ll then replace this year’s slips with new ones from next year.
This has been a truly wonderful year for me in many ways, and this calendar just seemed like a great way to show appreciation for it. Plus, I always think it’s kind of fun to start new traditions, don’t you?
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