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Awesome Jars: A Transformational Tool for your Family

November 22, 2016 | by Debbie Gutfreund

Instilling the art of acknowledging the good into your home.

After lighting candles on Friday nights and blessing each of my children, I hand each of them their awesome jar.

A few months ago, I decide to create an awesome jar for each of my children in which I place a few notes every week that describe something great that they each did. They loved reading their awesome notes, so I decided to add one for my husband. Eventually, I even added one for myself.

Writing out the notes every week for the awesome jars fills my heart and my home with much needed optimism and gratitude. It focuses my attention on all the positive things that both my husband and my children are doing each day.

Our awesome jars!

And it reminds me to acknowledge my own accomplishments and blessings too, so that whenever I forget how much goodness I have in my life, I can reach into my own jar and find a note that reminds me who I am and what I am proud of.

Some examples of notes that I have written for my children are:

Helped the neighbor with her children when she needed it.
Studied hard and received a terrific grade on the math test.
Shared the last cookie.
Helped unload the groceries from the car.
Welcomed the guests.
Learned how to ride a two-wheeler.
Crossed the monkey bars at the playground.

And some of the notes I have written for my husband include both the big and little things:

Worked so hard for our family.
Fixed the sink.
Put air in my tires.
Learned Torah with the boys.
Helped me on Friday morning.
Lit up my day with a warm smile.

The jars sit on a windowsill in our kitchen and soon after I began the tradition, my kids asked if they could write notes for each other. So I set up a pile of notes and a pen in front of the windowsill and every now and then, they contribute to each other’s jars.

Last week, after I lit candles one of my daughters handed me my jar and with tears in my eyes, I read notes from each of my children:

Made yummy dinners.
Brought me to school.
Cheered me up when I had a bad day.
Helped me with my homework.
Took me to buy new boots.
Read me a bedtime story.
Woke up early to make me a hot breakfast.

And I realized how many meaningful moments I had experienced in the past week that I hadn’t really even noticed. It builds us up when we feel appreciated and acknowledged. But as I looked around at my children’s beaming faces watching me read the notes, I realized that it builds us up even more when we consciously acknowledge the gifts and blessings that others bring into our lives each day.

Something beautiful has begun to seamlessly occur since we began our awesome jar tradition. Each of us is becoming more attuned to the efforts and work of other people. Recently, we were at an ice cream store and the line was moving very slowly. Some children in front of us were complaining and their parents were becoming annoyed. And then one of my kids said loud enough for the person working behind the counter to hear, “Wow, there are so many people here, and she is working all alone. It’s amazing how much patience she has even though she is working so hard and everyone is complaining!”

And now I find that I am consciously on the look-out for the goodness in the people around me. A few days ago, when we went ice skating, there was an older man wearing a veteran’s hat sitting on the side. I went up to him and said, “Thank you so much for serving our country.”

The man’s face lit up and there were tears in his eyes as he thanked me for acknowledging his service. Just one simple sentence and one smile, but it lit up his day and his view of how the world sees him.

Try it at your next family gathering. Go around the table and acknowledge each person for something unique and wonderful that he brings into your life. Let her know how much brighter the world is because she is a part of it. And then we can begin to acknowledge the endless Source of all the blessings and people in our lives, the One who gives us each an awesome jar of life and a chance every day to fill it with goodness.

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