Several years ago when my cancer advanced to stage IV, the journey got a little tougher and I realized I needed something to keep my attitude positive and in a state of gratitude. One evening in a waiting room, I found my answer.
As I watched a woman gently run her fingers through the beautiful bead bracelet she wore, I commented on the beauty of the bracelet. She smiled and explained that it was her "gratitude bracelet." The different patterns of beads served as reminders of the things she should be grateful for.
I loved the idea and immediately made a bracelet representing the ordinary things in my life that had made my life extraordinarily special -- my wife, kids, grandkids, friends and the loving care I receive at MD Anderson.
Since then, my family has added gratitude bracelet making to our Thanksgiving traditions. It ensures thankfulness and gratitude are at the center of our holiday celebration.
How to make your gratitude bracelets
Any local craft store will have the materials you need to make your gratitude bracelets:
wood or glass beads of different colors
elastic cord that fits through the bead holes
a tube of super glue to hold the knot
a sewing measuring tape to measure wrist size
scissors to cut the cord as it frays
Set up the bracelet-making table by putting the different beads in bowls, cut pieces of cord for each bracelet, and set out a piece of felt or cloth for individuals to design their bracelet on.
Now you are ready to make the bracelets by following these steps.
Step one: Measure wrist and plan to add 1-1.5 inches to make it loose enough.
Step two: Consider what you want to be more grateful about and what bead pattern will represent this gratitude. The blue beads on my bracelet represent my kids' and grandkids' eyes, and the pink beads represent my wife surviving breast cancer.
Step three: Place the beads on the cloth or felt, and have fun laying out the bracelet design. Be sure to measure the length along the way to ensure it is long enough for your wrist.
Step four: Secure your first bead with a simple overhand knot. As the cord frays, cut off just a little bit to make threading easier. When you get to your final bead, have someone put it around your wrist to ensure it is the right size.
Step five: Untie the simple overhand knot, and tie the two ends together using a square knot double, so that the knot will hold. Put a small drop of superglue on the knot, wait 30 seconds, cut off the extra cord.
Now, place your new gratitude bracelet on your wrist with a BIG internal smile as you feel the awesome power of gratitude! The best part is that you get to feel that power of gratitude all year long as you wear your bracelets.