A little dream and a loooong hunt finally accumulated in this little item arriving in the post this week...
|(Sorry about the dodgy asterisks! I try to keep my surname off the blog)|
My hopes/plans for this little plate are two fold...
Firstly - a Celebration Plate. I want to create a family tradition of pulling out this lovely plate for times of celebration. Not only for birthdays, but also first days of school, various achievements, milestones, to simply recognise character development, and so on. In our family we love to celebrate each other and this little plate will be a lovely visual way to do that habitually. Whoever is being celebrated gets to eat from this plate during our family dinners, and bask in the glow of adoration from the rest of their family ;)
My second hope/plan is to use it as an Appreciation Plate.
This idea certainly does not require a fancy dish! If you want to try this too, any old plate from an op-shop or wherever could do, you just want a plate that looks a bit different to the rest of your dinner plates. I got the concept from a very dear family whom I stayed with a few times in Minnesota, USA - many moons ago now, when I was single and childfree! This family of five are a wonderfully godly, loving and hospitable clan who gave me many visions of what I hoped my own family life might be some day. (And now here we are - wow!). I still have such fond memories of my days spent in snowy Minnesota!
One ritual they had was using an 'appreciation plate' each night at dinner. This 'special red plate' got rotated around the whole family (parents included) and whoever got the plate each night, the rest of the family would say something they appreciated about that person. Yeah, even as a nineteen year old, my heart just melted into a big old puddle, seeing young siblings saying kind things to each other. I even got to have the plate one night and was so touched by the kind and cute things the kids said :) I tucked that sweet idea away and here we are years later, with kids of my own who are finally old enough to start playing along! I don't expect we will do this every night forever, but more so as something we will bring to the table (ha!) for seasons as we feel the need.
|It's a little hard to read, but 'Bind us together, Lord' is inscribed on the back. Mark and I have these words|
engraved inside our wedding rings. Now almost a decade later, they are engraved on this family treasure. Wow - God is good. He is what binds us so tightly. The words are from a beautiful hymn we sing at church and have always loved. 'Bind us together, Lord, with cords that cannot be broken. Bind us together, with love'. Amen to that!
When I think about the skills I want to help develop in my children, one strong theme is to help them be fluent in communicating - fluent in appreciation, genuinely building up, resolving conflict, and sharing authentic feelings. This little nightly ritual will be another tool to help build up that skill. As we all know, sibling relationships (well, all family relationships!) can be fraught with tension, hurt feelings, and the wearing down from the nitty gritty of daily life together. Through all that, I want my children, our family, to be still comfortable in being able to say to each other 'This is what I appreciate about you. This is what I love about you. This is what I like about you. This is a strength I see in you.' Too often these good things can go unsaid, whilst harsh words and criticism flow freely!! :(
I hope that by giving the kids plenty of practise now, it may stretch those little hearts for use in many years to come. I want us all to be comfortable speaking this language of encouragement. For tender and uplifting words to roll easily from our tongues - not to feel awkward in speaking kindness to those we love the most. And not only between siblings! I want them to practise showing appreciation for their dear ol' parents ( we are people too!). I want to make a regular habit of showing them how much we (their parents) also appreciate them. And hey - the kids even get to see Mummy and Daddy show appreciation to each other! Yah, it's a regular appreciation-fest, I think you get the gist, no need for a diagram, haha ;)
We have started to introduce this little routine to our nightly family dinner table in the last few nights. For all my grand ideas, of course the kids have even better ones! After the family went around and said things we appreciated about Eli and were about to move on, he piped up and said 'Wait, it's my turn!!'. Well, I wasn't sure what he meant but then he proceeded to say something he appreciated - about himself!!!!!! LOVE IT. Why not? Why not give them space to stop, reflect and share a strength they can recognise about themselves! (He said he did a good job cleaning up his room that day). The next night when it was Lily's turn she squealed when she saw the plate at her seat. She was so thrilled and felt so special. After we all said our things about her (Eli told her she did a good job cheerfully trying a new dinner she was unsure about - it was so cute!), and it was time for her to do herself, she was like 'Oh, there's so many things I like about myself!' then rattled off four things. Oh, the unbashed self-confidence of children, lol!!!
Yes, yes, I am a sentimental soul, no doubt!! Mock if you will! ;) But I am just so happy about this simple little plate. And more than a mere plate, I am grateful for God's blessing of family and thankful for little traditions and rituals that bind us ever closer. When it comes to my family, there is so very much to appreciate and celebrate... and during the hum drum, exhausting, challenging or just 'arrgghhh' kind of days, I don't want any of us to forget that. We are richly blessed to have one another.
PS If you come over to dinner, you will get the Appreciation Plate! xx