Friday, February 10, 2012

Valentine Gratitude Box

If you recall last year we had a Valentine Gratitude box in the kitchen in which to put sweet notes to each other. We read them aloud on Feb 14th.

Margaret doesn't want to do it this year, because even though Jack apparently chose NOT to participate, he was a big part of the activity last year. I blogged about my favorite funny responses last February, and I think they illustrate the sweet and playful way Margaret related to Jack and our whole family!

I really hope you'll check that post out, replacing Molly/Margaret and Jake/Jack.

Here are some others that didn't make that post, but that sure DO make me miss LAST Valentine's Day a lot:

Jack, I love your loyalty. Love, Dad

Anna, I love your mothering instincts. Love, Tim

Thanks for getting me up on time, Margaret! Love, Mom

Tim, You are a stud. Love, Anna

I like the way Margaret didn't get upset when I forgot to wash her pants. xo, Mom

Jack, you are a good friend. Love, Mom

Margaret, you are a ton of fun! Love, Mom

Margaret, I love how you are my early morning buddy. Love, Dad

Jack, I love how you have a compassionate heart, especially for people who are less fortunate. Dad

Shadow, Thanks for being such a good car rider. Love, Mom

Tim, Thank you for cooking yummy food for us! xo, Anna

Mom, I like your chicken soup. - M

Shadow, I like your cuteness!- M

Margaret, I love your sense of humor! Love, Dad

Jack, You have the cutest hair ever. Sorry Justin Bieber, you lose! Mom

Margaret, reading "Holes" with you is fun. I wonder how it will turn out?!" Love, Mom

I love the way Jack doesn't let his nosebleeds get him down. Love, Mom

I love how Tim has gotten the kids into skiing! Love, Anna

Who is the best builder? Jack is! Love, Mom

Jack, your artwork looks great! Love, Mom

Margaret, I love watching you dance Hip-Hop Love, Mom

Jack, I love how you keep your promises. Love, Dad

I love the way Margaret and Jack help calm me down when I get stressed-- xo, Mom

Margaret, Shopping with you is FUN! xo, Mom

Margaret, I love watching you play soccer! Love, Dad

I love the discussions Jack and I get into at bedtime. Love, Mom

Margaret, you are a good friend. Love, Mom

Like, OMG! Margaret is sooo funny! xo, Mom

I enjoyed my lunch date with Dad. xo, Mom

Shadow, I love your enthusiastic greetings. It makes me feel loved when you are always so happy to see us. Love, Dad (editor's note: the longest note is from Tim to a dog.)

Jack-- Go black diamond slopes! Impressive! xo, Mom

Jack, I love playing games with you. Love, Dad

Anna, I love the way you write. Tim

You get the idea. If someone could send me a time machine for Valentine's Day, I'd be mighty grateful.

Love to you all!


L said...

I am so glad you save stuff!!! Love these notes and love each of you. XO Liz

susan jakovina said...

LOVE this idea. And how amazing that you've kept them all. And can share them here.
Happy Valentine's Day to you.

kate said...

I laughed out loud that the longest note was to the dog!! It is such a blessing for you and your family that you started chronicling your life before that awful day. Your daughter, I think, will especially be thankful when she is grown up and she is able to look back and remember things she may have forgotten.
I had a good friend who right after high school died very suddenly of meningitis when we were just 19, and his sister was forever changed and I wish she would have had something like this to look back on and smile about all these years later. It still defines much of her life... She is on her 4th child( all girls) hoping for that boy to call Barry.
I pray for you and your family everyday and wish you all the best.

M. said...

Anna- I've been thinking about last years gratitude box an awful lot and wondering if you would be doing it again this year. I'm glad to see this post and maybe one year when you least expect it M will bring it back. If I may I'd like to add to the box and express my gratitude for you! I am so thankful you are teching me all the little ways to be a great mom. Thanks for being you!

Kristin said...

While I'm sure those notes are painful to look back on now, it's so wonderful that your family shared that love with each other while you had the chance. Jack certainly had no doubts about how loved and appreciated he was in your family. This post is a reminder to all of us to appreciate even the seemingly mundane things we love about our family — and to tell them all the things we love about them before it is too late.

Anonymous said...

That's a really neat idea. I so wish each holiday wasn't tainted with your loss:(

Stimey said...

Wow. I remember this from last year. It's such a great idea. I think it is so nice to have sweet, little everyday things that you love about your kids. The big stuff you remember, but it's lovely to be able to look back on the little stuff too.

Also, I guarantee you that our dog would not get any love notes in the box.

Love to you, Anna.

Stimey said...

Two things:

1. That photo of Jack is breathtaking. He was so gorgeous.

2. I just went back to last year's post and, oh lord, Margaret is a funny girl.

Kim said...

That picture is just gorgeous. I agree, he has better hair than Justin Bieber!

Leah C said...

Oh how I wish had a time machine to lend you! Hugs & prayers...

Meredith Self said...

the big day post was awesome. ALL holidays are non-days here. peevs. phmfs. working on it.

LOVE your tradition. may have to start another donaldson tradition in our house (new marriage, new baby...tim's christmas gift scavenger hunt rocked!)

why didn't jack participate in this one, i wonder.

super loved reading all your notes to each other. margaret is such a firecracker. love her notes to herself and from jack.

love you

NanaDiana said...

I wish it was in my power to send you a time machine. One that works in real time and not memory time. Love to you- Diana

Salvimom said...

Love the idea, will file it for future use! Your family is so beautiful. Keep on keeping on love. Prayers, as always.


Debby@Just Breathe said...

What a fun thing to do. I think a gratitude box could work in a house even if it wasn't Valentines time. When young friends of mine have children I try to convince them to start a blog. I think they are the best, like a living photo album. I am so glad you have these moments to look back on. A friend of mine does a book each year of her posts. I wish I had this when my children were young but I hope that someday my grandchild will read my blog and get to know a little bit about me! ((HUGS))

Aimee said...

Completely hysterical! Margaret is a riot! Lmao..... Way too much humor! The dog notes Margaret wrote made me LOL!
This is a great family idea, thank you!!!! My heart really goes out to your handsome lil angel Jack, this Velentine's Day. Lots of hugs for the Donaldson family.

Kim @ A Brush of Whimsy said...

I love that idea!

Kate Coveny Hood said...

Anna - I love how you inspire me to be a better mother. And person. xo-Kate

Lisa said...

I remember reading your Valentine's post from last year. I had actually written down the idea for something we could do some day.

Loved seeing some of the "out-takes" today. What great memories.

I would totally share a time machine with you if I found one. Quick, know anyone with a Delorean and 1.21 jigawatts of energy??!

Anonymous said...

Anna, I love the way you share your family with us. Love, Your Blog Readers

(I'm feeling free to speak for us all).

Laura at Ms. Smartie Pants said...

You may say you aren't playing that game this year but I think it's in your dna, you've been sharing love notes with us since he died! What a great tradition, aren't you glad you kept them. This is kinda freaky, my word verification an abbreviation for remember!

Geri said...

A time machine, yes. Wouldn't that be wonderful? Thank you again for sharing your family with us. I, too, laughed so hard at some of the notes margaret put in last year's box. That is one funny girl you have there, gets it from her momma, for sure. This picture of Jack is just beyond words beautiful, what a gift he was, to your family, to all of us.

Unknown said...

What a sweet cute idea! I love your family. How nice of Jack to write such things about Molly (in Molly's handwriting). ;-)

Laura said...

What a neat idea! The 'longest note to a dog' cracked me up almost as much as the wonderfully witty responses from Margaret.

And that picture of Jack? Oh my goodness . . . so handsome.

Anonymous said...

could you use the box this year for special memories/stories of Jack? Then you could read them together to remember him on V-day.

Anonymous said...

You did it last year and no-one can take the memory away. A permanent reminder of the love you shared and the special things you love about each other - particularly Jack.

xo mandy

Karen L. said...

Anna, I am new to your blog but have been praying for your family since I learned of the loss of Jack. Pray that you will one day know in your heart, spirit, mind and body that you could not have known that the little creek could turn into more than that. You did not one could was not your fault. You are a spectacular mom in a very loving family. May our Lord give you a measure of peace, as you said, the "Peace that passes all understanding" in the days ahead. Love in Him, Karen

The Carens Clan said...

Thank you for sharing this sweet blog. I know we all wish we could get you that time machine! That picture of Jack is amazing, what a gorgeous boy. You're an awesome person, Anna! God bless you.

Anonymous said...

I pray for a time machine for you every single day. (((hugs)))
and, ftr, if we did notes, the longest note would be mariano's not to Guidry (our hound).

Anna: I love that you remind me not to ever take a single nanosecond for granted. Much love - Mariann

Amy J said...

Anna, I love how you share your heart. Love, Amy

Princess Kate said...

Thinking about you all a lot today. All your memories are so wonderful and precious. Hold onto them tight. I feel so honored that you share them with us. Praying for peace and comfort (and a time machine)

Claire P. said...


What a beautiful idea and one my family needs to start. I also think this is something that could be done any time of year!

If I have learned anything in a new and deeper way these past 5 months it is to practice thankfulness and gratitude for all of our blessings, each and every day.

Sending love your way,


Unknown said...

Anna- I found this blog a few days ago (bc I started one myself and I'm learning how to blog well from other people's blogs) and I'm pretty sure I WILL NEVER BE THE SAME AGAIN after reading your family's story. I've been face down praying (&crying out to God) for your family. I'm also thanking Him in advance for the the glorious plans He has in store for each of you. i also know that He will provide the peace that passes understanding ass you all continue through your journey. I've shared your story with others I know and plan to keep Jack alive in other peoples hearts and minds:) I admire your strong faith, it is like medicine Anna! God bless you all! I'll pray feverantly for your beauful family and trust Him to provide for your family's needs. Love from my home to yours:)

Anonymous said...

If I ever lost one of my children, I think one of the main things that would matter to me was whether or not I had made sure that during their time on earth with me, they knew they were LOVED, LOVED, LOVED!

What I love about your family, and in particular your relationship with your kids, is that it is so obvious to this outsider that Jack and Margaret knew they were loved beyond measure, each and every day. I hope I can do as good a job as you have clearly done to make them know how much they are loved!

mia said...

Love this idea, the Donaldsons are a very special family. Jack certainly never had the chance to wonder if he was special.....thinking of you as always and praying. xoxo

Chrisy said...

XO. Love seeing that sweet face and thank you for sharing more of the notes. I can't say it enough. You're amazing. XO

Ross said...

What a fantastic idea! It's also a really special way of keeping Jack in memory.

Heidi said...

I do remember that post! I thought it was as lovely and fun then as I do now.
I think about you guys so, so much. xo

Jen Luebke said...

I can only imagine the wonderful things Jack would of said about you if he had chosen to participate. You are an amazing mother.

the mama bird diaries said...

What a wonderful thing to do. I can't believe you kept them all. I'd deliver you a time machine in a second.

Anonymous said...

What a beautiful idea & now immeasureable value

Ann Imig said...

Anna, I'm grateful that this blog has served as one big gratitude box that you can mine for memories, and preserve for the future.

You have a gift with words but also with self-awareness and grace.

I wish you weren't missing such a piece of your heart this Valentines Day.

Thank you,


TheLab said...

"Anna, I love the way you write" Wow, what a husband! And the longest note was Tim to a dog. Priceless.

I love the post from last year. You know what? I don't think I can forget ANY of your posts. Each time you link to one, I nod and think, "oh yeah, that one was awesome!" before I even read it again. Tim's right about your writing.

And, as always, we're praying for you as you face another stupid holiday carrying this grief.

Anonymous said...

Anna, I just love your family, then and now.


Gina said...

What a neat family!! You are inspiring me even though it is just me and my daughter. I guess we can do this for each other. Oh Anna, if I could give you a time machine I absolutely would!!! I am assuming Jack didn't participate because he was getting to that age where maybe it felt a little "goofy" writing those kinds of notes.

Natalie said...

This brought tears to my eyes. What a beautiful idea! I'm incorporating it in home - the world needs more love.

prenni5 said...

This is SUCH a beautiful idea!! No wonder you have such a loving and close-knit family. You are such a great mom!! -Annie P.

Domino said...

I'm reading back through your entries thanks to the article on the Washington Post. My heart goes out to you. I can't even start to imagine your pain. I hope this doesn't sound wrong but why do you always call Shadow just a dog? I feel like you put her down a lot. She's a member of the family and I bet you anything she also misses Jack with her whole heart. I only wanted to give my to cents on that.

Much love to you and yours. You're in my thoughts.