Read the story below. After reading it, think about the impact it had on both people… then, have each student get out two sheets of paper. On the first sheet, have students write a list of gratitude… things for which they are grateful. The list can range from people to things to skills and talents. Then, after that list has been completed, have them write a letter to someone on that list. Really express sincere thanks (gratitude) for what that person has done for them. Encourage them to list an actual event or detail that represents why they are grateful (similar to the account below). Acknowledge what the person had to offer and the fact that they gave of their time and energy. Encourage the student to think about what they have to offer others and how they will pass it along to them in the future. Remind them to be sure the person gets the letter and have an in-class discussion on what they learned about gratitude during this project.
I love it at night. It’s peaceful. And when it cools down I sometimes do some ironing. I don’t really care for it. I work full time and too busy for most housework. I remember the old woman who taught me to iron. I was about 15 and somehow got a live-in job taking care of a woman who had been an able-bodied, healthy woman until the accident or tumor or something that caused her to be paralyzed. I think the county (who was heavily involved in our family life at the time) arranged the whole thing.
The woman had an electric wheelchair. She could move her head and arms but not her hands or fingers. She had this clamp attached to her arm and I’d have to open it and put a cup or pencil in it and then she could maneuver it. She would tell me how to do things. She would instruct me in great detail on the correct way to do things. She taught me how to make gravy with corn starch, perfectly. Her home was perfect and beautiful. She would follow me around in her electric wheelchair to make sure I did everything EXACTLY right. I’m sure she had been a perfect homemaker. She would have me fold everything, including socks and underwear. I was used to just throwing it in a drawer. She had me iron sheets and pillow cases. I would grumble silently and wish terrible things on her. She taught me the right way to make a bed and tuck the corners. No such thing as fitted sheets. I know sometimes she’d get frustrated and impatient with me. I knew she wanted to grab it and do it herself. But she never yelled or scolded. Only insisted I do it right. I didn’t like it much, but I did it.
Today I can iron pretty well. I know where to start on a shirt, the right way to do the collar and sleeves, and to not run over the buttons. Now that I think about it, I don’t think she was an old lady. I think she might have been about my age now. Anyway, when I iron, I think of her and silently thank her for all the things I learned when I thought I was the giver. So much more than just the tasks I performed.