One of the best things about Richard and I both being teachers was our two month summer vacations. When our children were young, we spent many of those summers on the road with our tent trailer in tow. I called it our gypsy wagon. Our kids have been to the northern tip of Newfoundland and seen the midnight sun in Inuvik, NWT. They’ve hiked a portion of the Chilkoot Trail out of Skagway, Alaska and under Utah’s hot desert sun. They’ve stood in an Anasazi cliff dwelling in southwestern Colorado and on the rim of the Grand Canyon. Melaina still has Michaela, the handmade doll she bought from a street vendor by that name in Tijuana, Mexico.
Every night, as I tucked the children into their trailer beds and listened to their prayers, I asked each one “What was your best thing today?” Their answers often surprised me. We might have toured a historic site that day or viewed an amazing natural phenomenon but a child’s answer was often something simple like the puppy they played with in the campground or roasting marshmallows over the fire.
Now grown with kids of their own, both Matthew and Melaina have introduced a similar practice into the daily lives of their own children. Every evening, as part of four-year-old Sam’s bedtime routine, Matt and Robin ask him what his best thing that day was. They record his answer in a little notebook and one of them draws a picture to go with it. It’s not about producing great works of art but rather, about remembering the moments that are important in the day to day life of their little boy. They plan to start a similar journal for Nate when he turns three next month. What treasures those little books will become down through the years.
At Melaina’s house, when the family gathers for supper, one of the children asks the other “What was your favourite today?” Soon everyone around the table is asked to share the best thing from their day. What a great way to teach children to show appreciation for the good things in their lives.
In addition to getting back into shape physically, I’ve decided that another step toward banishing my “why bother” attitude ought to be to begin looking for the best things in each of my own days. Even the most mundane or difficult days have blessings in them if we take the time to look for them.
Today was one of those days when it would have been easy to focus on the negative but choosing the best thing was easy. My best thing was arriving home safely after our drive to the city and back for a long awaited MRI on Richard’s shoulder. We expected winter driving conditions, of course, but we didn’t expect rain at -16ºC (3ºF) and we certainly didn’t expect the lunatic driver who flew out of a side road and spun out on the icy road right in front of us! Richard managed to swerve and avoid what could easily have been a deadly crash. I think there must have been angels watching over us! Come to think of it, maybe that was really the best thing.