- Allison Miles
Four years ago, I arrived at work to a flurry of activity and the smell of bacon filling my nose. My colleague Greg, donning an apron, flipped pancakes on a griddle. This was our old office, before the remodel, when the almost-too-small kitchen sat next to the building entrance and the rest of the space was mostly empty warehouse, which frequently held celebrations and gatherings that spilled over from the kitchen.
Dogs were milling about, following those savory smells as their humans carried platters of food between the warehouse, where the cooking was happening, and the long wooden table that filled the kitchen. In the center of the table was a metal bowl and next to it, a stack of blank scrap paper cut into small strips – the Gratitude Bowl.
For days, that bowl and stack of paper had sat in the center of the kitchen table. It was an invitation to practice gratitude – and to share it with each other – by writing down things we were grateful for, folding up the slip of paper, and dropping it into the bowl.
Moments later, all of us squeezed around that kitchen table, plates and coffee mugs brimming, elbows bumping as we tucked in to an indulgent breakfast that had been prepared with joy. As the clatter of forks and plates began to quiet, we passed around the Gratitude Bowl, taking turns pulling out a piece of paper and reading aloud to the group what each of us was thankful for – everything from warm socks, to family, each other, and of course, our dogs. Tears and laughter and smiles filled that room, as one of our favorite Ruffwear traditions was born.
In the years since that first Gratitude Breakfast, Ruffwear has changed and grown. We renovated our building and moved into a new space with a bigger kitchen that holds all of us. The long wooden table still stretches across the middle of the room, and at this time of year, hosts a metal bowl and a stack of blank paper.
Sharing gratitude has remained part of our daily practice, at the start of group meetings or during one-on-one check-ins. I personally have learned that when I take a few moments each day, or as often as I can, to write down a few things I am grateful for, I have a more positive and hopeful outlook on life.
This year, most of us are working remotely, so the Gratitude Breakfast will be different. The Gratitude Bowl and slips of paper are temporarily taking shape as a Google Form, breakfast will be DIY-style, and our kitchen table, for this year, will be a tiled display of each other's faces on Google Meet. A virtual gathering is not the same, but I’m grateful we’re keeping the tradition going in whatever way we can.
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