Sometimes great ideas are born out of conflict.
My husband and I sat on opposite sides of the dining room table with quiet tears shared between us. I came to the conversation feeling unappreciated for the contribution I was making to our family, and so did he. At some point on our journey together—finishing school, starting a business, writing a book, working hard to make ends meet—we’d forgotten how to be grateful for one another.
Or at least how to express it.
It wasn’t what we meant or what we intended—but the feelings were there and they were real—and we needed to change because it’s not who we wanted to become.
Let’s make cheer jars. When we catch each other doing something good, we’ll write a note, drop it in, and read them together at the end of the month.
I paused for a moment before responding.
I think I’d like that.
At Mike’s job employees are nominated for cheer awards every month, catching people excelling at their jobs and celebrating their hard work organization-wide. What we adopted to appreciate one another has grown to include our kids and has become a cherished monthly ritual in our home. It’s caused us to be more thoughtful, more watchful, and while it hasn’t made things perfect between us, it sure has made a huge difference.
The Cheer Jar and How it Works
Our Cheer Jars have a prominent place in our home, along with 3X5 index cards and pens to keep us mindful of our goals to bless one another with our words. Throughout the month we write notes to one another—thanking each other for small kindnesses, applauding the goodness in each other, and calling out the best in one another. At the start of each new month, we bring the jars to the breakfast table and read them out loud.
Elijah, Thank you for helping mommy bring all the pots and pans downstairs when the range-top was replaced. It was so helpful and I appreciated your willingness to help cheerfully. – Momma
Noah, You have such a tender heart. Thank you for comforting Micah when he cries. – Daddy
Micah, I’m so glad you’re my brother. – Elijah
Michael, Thank you for taking the boys to their classes and letting me stay home. I love, love, love (and absolutely need!) the break. – Christine
Christine, Thank you for keeping up with the laundry and the dishes. You take good care of us. – Michael
It’s been exciting to see how this practice has positively affected our family – especially our boys. They’ve begun to understand that words can be a gift to those we love. The smiles on their little faces when they read a card someone’s written for them, or when they share a card they’ve written for someone else, cause tears to well up in my eyes because I know this is one of the things we’re doing right.
Mike and I have reaped rewards in our relationship as well. We want to love each other well, and this small change is helping us be more intentional toward one another. In the busyness of every day we can forget to say the simple things –
I love you. You are important to me. What you do matters.
Our Cheer Jars are helping us remember.
How to Make Your Own Cheer Jars
All you need is a quart size mason jar for each person in your family and some type of name tag to distinguish between them. We chose to add chalkboard stickers (found at Michaels) to colored jars for our family.
Several stores, like Target or Joanne Fabric, carry different colored/designed mason jars and special lids. Go with what works best for your family taking into consideration your artistic abilities, budget, and household décor.
If you’re feeling especially crafty, mod podge some special fabric or paper elements to personalize each jar. Your Cheer Jars can be as simple or as involved as you want to make them – the point is just to use them.
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