Wednesday, November 21, 2012

One Thousand Gifts

Last year, my older son's teacher assigned each student to come up with a list of One Thousand Gifts. No, not a Christmas wish list. Inspired by the book by Ann Voskamp, the teacher asked for a list of one thousand things to be grateful for. One thousand! I can easily rattle off 30 items I'm thankful for, one item for each day in November. With a tiny bit more work, I can probably crank the list up to 100. But 1000 is a lot. To come up with 1000, you have to dig really deep. It took the entire school year to compile.

My son started off easy, listing "All fifty states" as one line item (#64) followed by each state named individually in alphabetical order. But eventually, he uncovered a depth of gratitude that I didn't know existed inside him. It was like a tween's journal but with absolutely no angst, just sunshine and happiness. This lesson entered his life at a good time. Like many coming of age stories, my boy was beginning to leave that childlike sense of wonder behind him and become aware of the realities of the world. Seeking 1000 gifts focused his gaze on the realities that are good and beautiful instead of the ones that make you lose faith. So with his permission, here are a few of those gifts, mostly travel related.


10. A sunset with an array of colors

Watching the sunset over the Pacific Ocean at Kalaloch Lodge in Olympic National Park, Washington.
For all you Twilight fans, this is in Forks.
 

293. My brother who is a serious Pokemon fan


Making brother's dreams come true with a visit to Tokyo's Pokemon Center.


374. The countless hours of free time on an intercontinental flight.

So much in-flight entertainment, so little time on the flight from Los Angeles to Hong Kong.


434. Having random thoughts of Maine when eating lobster.

The view from Thurston's Lobster Pound in Bernard, Maine where lobster boats unload traps right at the restaurant.


472. Hearing the drums banging at the dragon dance celebration




500. 500 -- exactly half of 1000 gifts -- halfway before your goal's end to make you say, "Wow, it was hard, but I managed and thought of 1000 thankful gifts."


714. Monkeys that crawl all around Malaysia and want to steal your food

Training baby monkeys on the fine art of stealing food at the Penang Botanical Garden


849. Pike's Peak where "America the Beautiful" was written

They only allowed us 40 minutes at the summit before heading back down to avert altitude sickness.


858. Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park, full of hardened magma and glowing volcanoes


Devastation Trail had tiny bits of solidified lava known as Pele's hair and Pele's tears


1000. The one thousandth gift is completed. Flipping back in the book will remind me of all the fun I had in sixth grade.


This post is part of Travel Photo Thursday at Budget Travelers Sandbox and Friday Daydreamin' at R We There Yet Mom? Check them out for more around-the-world travel inspiration.

21 comments:

  1. Wow what a task - a very valuable one though. You never know what you can really do until someone challenges you. :-)

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    1. It did turn out to be a big challenge but a very good lesson.

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  2. An excellent challenge - I bet it was fun too - Just as well you had lots of time.

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  3. What a lovely idea. And such thoughtful responses from your son. (I expect my 11-year-old would have a very horse-focused list.)

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    1. Your kid's list may be horse-focused for the first 600 items, but then she'd probably run out of horse things and have to start something else. With 1000, you really have to branch out.

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  4. Replies
    1. Thank you! I will admit that I was picking Gifts that I had photos for.

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  5. What a great project! I like all of the photos.

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    1. Thanks for the Budget Travelers Sanbox blog and giving everyone to opportunity to link up.

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  6. Fantastic idea and I can well imagine it took some soul searching to come up with a complete list. This was a lovely heart warming post.

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    1. I should challenge myself to come up with a list, too.

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  7. Kudos to your son for coming up with this list. I like #1000.
    Happy Thanksgiving!

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    1. It definitely has been a good way to remember the year. Happy Thanksgiving to you, too!

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  8. Your son's list is totally inspirational. I love his perspective on the things for which he's grateful. Such a thoughtful guy. Also, I had no idea that America the Beautiful was written at Pike's Peak. Very cool piece of information!

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    1. The song was originally published as a poem titled Pikes Peak. Standing up there, you really do get a sense of how magnificent the country is.

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  9. What a wonderful assignment - probably a list that we should all take the time to write! I love that your son is thankful for his brother - despite all the fighting I really hope that my girls are thankful for each other. LOVE #374 too - I thought that I was the only one that loved long flights for all the free time - that's when I do all my movie viewing! I hope your family had a lovely Thanksgiving!!

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    1. I like #374, too. I actually check the entertainment schedule the month before we fly just to make sure I don't watch those movies when I'm on the ground.

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  10. I loved this! It's such a cool project and your son did such a great job on his list. You did an awesome job of picking out the travel worthy ones with beautiful pictures. I cherish long flight times too to catch up on reading and movie watching. Hope your family had a wonderful Thanksgiving despite being away from the rest of the clan.

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  11. This is a really wonderful idea. Kudos to your son's teacher for teaching kids the value of gratitude!

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  12. Wow, a list of a thousand things you are grateful for! You have to ask the good Dr himself. He has been reminding Malaysians to be grateful for all the things that the Malaysian government, presumably himself, has allegedly done for us poor hoi polloi. But seriously, your son deserves a medal for being able to complete the list. Really wow! I myself, can't even go beyond one. That's how grateful I am for this conundrum called life. And that's saying a lot. For one, I am certainly not grateful for the mess that somebody made in the first place, even if that somebody was the insentient primordial soup of proteins. And if that somebody was a sentient one, more so my ingratitude to it or him or her? YUK!

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