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What Tastes Better Than Pumpkin Pie?

. . . One that has gratitude “baked” into it.

My kids aren’t quite at the ages at which I feel comfortable letting them have at it when it comes to pumpkin carving. We’ll get there, but for now, we’re trying out paint -- and gratitude.

The paint part is self-explanatory. Letting your kids go wild with washable paint, googly eyes, stickers, glitter, and glue might even be more fun for them -- and less bug-attracting for your front doorstep.

As for the gratitude, all you need is a pumpkin, a Sharpie marker (assorted size markers for different size pumpkins or retractable markers for the family (mine) that's always losing caps), and thankful thoughts. (Bonus points if your kid can carry the pumpkin from Point A to Point B. He/She will likely say the pumpkin is heavy, and it's a great opportunity to discuss how strong American farmers are and how hard they work to make sure we not only have pumpkins in the fall but also good food to eat all through the year).

Every day in the month of October, I’m asking my kids something for which they’re thankful. I’m their Sharpie scribe (so their words don’t rub off and I don’t have to worry about permanent marker on unintended places), but if you have budding writers and trust them with the permanent ink, let them have at it (we tried washables; ended up more like a dry erase board!) While I might also serve as gratitude muse here and there, they are the gratitude generators. Over a period of time, it’s fascinating and rewarding to see how they run through the “typical” (though still important!) ideas of gratitude pretty quickly, later identifying deeper ideas of gratitude; including those specific to blessings in their own family and experiences in their own community.

For instance, my oldest child hasn’t bonded with her baby sister the same way my middle child has, and it’s been heavy on my heart. But tonight, when she sang one of the ballads from Frozen, the baby just smiled and giggled in complete delight at her big sister. My eldest finally had a captive audience. Her gratitude tonight? “I’m thankful I got to sing for my baby sister.” After the kids went to sleep, and I cleaned up the dinner table, I could have added my own follow-on gratitude, “I’m thankful I saw my girls enjoying one another’s company.”

Gratitude pumpkins need not be a replacement for designing the glowing toothy grins famous during this time of year. We like to think of it more as an addition -- perhaps even a new tradition -- to honor a season known for giving thanks. In Florida, we don’t have a lot of leaves to rake, let alone many that change color, so I’m excited this practice can help my family mark a seasonal transition in the year. This invites us to remember the fruit that comes from the land and all the metaphorical “fruits” we enjoy in our lives.

If you choose to create a gratitude pumpkin, we'd love to see what you and your kids create! Send your pics to

PS See below for my other gratitude pumpkin. Thanks for letting me share <3


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