June 23, 2024
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June 23, 2024
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Turning Tisha B’Av Into a Day of Gratitude

There are many different coping mechanisms that people use to manage their mental illnesses. One that I have been using recently, which has been successful, is keeping a gratitude journal. Every so often I write down things, events or people I am thankful for in my life. It helps me focus on the positives in my life and gives me strength to make it through another day.

Another way that I remind myself of positive things is through physical reminders: an inspirational quote on my wall; a piece of jewelry; even something as simple as a plant. Anything that makes me think of and appreciate another great thing in my life.

I think that this can be helpful for anyone, not just specifically those suffering with a mental illness. I also try to pass this attitude of gratitude on to my children, Chani, 8; Yoni, 7; and Sammy, 2 ½. This is the most recent example of how we turned a somewhat difficult day into a day of chesed and gratitude.

I’ve been told by my rabbis for many years that I cannot fast for various reasons. It’s always so difficult to make fast days meaningful for myself, especially Tisha B’Av. Let me tell you, eating on the floor on that day feels so wrong.

I wanted to turn Tisha B’Av this year into a day of chesed for my kids by showing gratitude to some of our local community helpers. A week before the fast, we went and bought art supplies. During the week we decorated posters of appreciation for our local fire, police and EMT departments. Then on Tisha B’Av the kids spent the allowance they earned from that week picking out special treats that they thought our heroes would enjoy the most. Our final stop was hand-delivering them to each of the departments. The appreciation that our local heroes expressed and the looks of surprise on their faces were amazing.

I think the best moment of the day was when one of my kids asked me, “Can we do this every year?” They are already debating whom to deliver to next year. This made Tisha B’Av more meaningful for all of us, as we were able to show our appreciation to some of our local heroes who may not always receive the recognition they deserve. Children are never too young to learn to express gratitude to others. Kol Hakavod to my wonderful children!

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