November is National Gratitude Month: What are you grateful for?

Many studies have shown gratitude helps alleviate stress and improve healing. This is especially true for parents and children battling childhood cancer. When challenging times come, gratefulness can elude us. Instead, parents’ mental and emotional focus is to get and give their child the best care and treatment.

Focus on life’s blessings not its challenges.
In the midst of this upheaval it is most important to take a deep breath, exhale and allow ourselves to feel into, become aware of, and simply reflect on the good things that are happening, whether it is the love of your family, the quality of your medical care team, the help of friends, a letter or card in the mail, or a good day with your child during chemo. We can also help our children focus on gratitude. 

Exercise: Close your eyes, go within, and find that quiet place to focus on something you are grateful for. It may be as simple as the ability to inhale and exhale, a pleasant scent, a card, note, or phone call you received from a friend who encouraged you. What thoughts are you allowing your mind to dwell on? Do they serve your highest good, or hold you back? For just a few moments make a choice to have positive thoughts and allow for grateful thoughts to flow in. Ultimately, we do not have to suffer because we can change our thoughts. Make a decision to be grateful and it will reward you all day, every day!

Project: Gratitude Journal
A nice project for the boring hospital room is to decorate gratitude journals together. 

What you’ll need:

  • Notebook
  • Colorful markers 
  • Art paper
  • Stickers 

A daily practice of writing down several things you are grateful for will have a positive effect. When feeling especially low, start with little things like remembering a smile you received from your child, an all-knowing hug from your spouse, a dinner delivered, or a gift card used to give you a night off cooking. 

Project: Thanksgiving Gratitude Tree.
Start a new November family tradition of daily gratitude.

What You’ll Need

  • Branches
  • Floral styrofoam
  • Large container 
  • Construction paper in autumn colors
  • String or yarn
  • Hole punch
  • Scissors

Instructions:
Place the styrofoam in the container. This will hold the branches in place. Stick the branches into the styrofoam. Cut out leaves (about 2-3 inches in length so there is enough room to write). Punch a hole through each leaf and thread a piece of yarn or string through the hole and tie a knot. Write something you are grateful for on one leaf a day, then hang on the branches and grow your gratitude tree!

Here to Serve IS Grateful!
Here to Serve is grateful for the privilege of coming alongside families who have a child battling cancer. We are grateful for our donors, volunteers, and the goodness that surrounds us. This November, as we look toward a Thanksgiving that will not mirror any of the past, we are grateful that we are safe and that this pandemic allowed us to change our service delivery model to offer our program of support nationwide. 

Please join us to help families who need extra support by donating whatever time and resources you are inspired to provide. Remember, you don’t give “to” Here to Serve, you give “through” Here to Serve to the families who need us most. Please, kindly, spread the word to families who could use assistance from Here to Serve. We are Here to Serve! Finally, here is a link to an inspiring, short video of living a grateful life and overcoming life’s challenges.

By Amanda Enciso