I asked my students to write some things for which they are thankful. Here are a few of their written responses of gratitude. I kept their grammar and spelling “as is.” I’ve found that the most perfect communication is often imperfect.  Please also keep in mind that these are young children. They are still learning to write well. You may feel free to judge their formal rules of writing as a bit shoddy, but be slow to judge their hearts by the same measure. Their hearts may be purer than yours and mine.

“I am thankful for my puppy. He waits all day tul I get home then he pees with me outside by our favorite bush most days he pees even more than me the bush is dead. We need to find another one.” (Well, if I were a bush growing anywhere near their apartment, I might be on the lookout for some yellow rain sometime soon.)

“I am thankful for bad guys. If there was not any bad guys I could never be a good policemans when I grow up.” (You bad guys out there — thank you for keeping law enforcement in business.)

“I am posed to be thankfull for the air I breeth but I am not thankful at all for air after daddy comes out of the bathroom. I wish then I was on a iland somewhere far away.” (If you have not shared such an experience as described by this child, you have been spared what may strongly resemble a near-death experience. Those of us among the living who have experienced such a fate assure you this is true.)

“I ant thankful for nuthin. I just ant. I am mad at Caleb right now for callin my momma a twirdle and the right side of my heart ant workin right right now.” (Honesty is always appreciated and always respected. How nice to be so intimately in touch with your emotions at such a young age.)

“I am thankful for sharks, volcanoes, snakes, hurricanes and everything that people call bad. Mr. Talley said none of them are really bad. They are all good. I believe him. Although it still makes sense whether I believe him or not.” (A plus for this kid; grammar, syntax, spelling, love, scientific thinking, the meaning of life … all of the above. He gets it.)

“I am not thankful for flies. I hate flies. I hate them because I swallowed one on a sandwitch ounced. I am thankful for my gran-gran dough. She keeps flies off my fried balonee in the summer on pikniks. She does that. and she sings to me at night when i fall asleep beside her.” (Bittersweet is often life’s grandest taste of all. And the ability to find some sweet hidden within the bitter is a great life skill, indeed.)

“I am thankful that my ugly uncle jim drinks. My aunt sara says she wishes he would not drink at all. But nobody can live without drinking. If I dont drink water I will die. She is not rite about that part of uncle jim. But she is rite about uncle jim being at least a litle bit ugly. She say he breaks mirors and I think it might be true. But i wish she would tell him it okay to drink. He say he needs to drink. And I agree with my ugly uncle jim.” (I’d like to pay a home visit soon and take a gander at Uncle Jim myself, just to see what he looks like. I might even tote along a little hand mirror — just in case Aunt Sara is right.)

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Ben Talley is an inductee into the National Teachers Hall of Fame, a former Virginia Teacher of the Year, and a McGlothlin Award Winner for Teaching Excellence.

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