It is the season for Thanksgiving! In the past, I have participated in the “Month of Thankfulness”, where I posted daily on Facebook telling one thing that I was thankful for that day. There is value there, but I think the more valuable approach is a more Biblical approach. We are not to be thankful for one month out of the year. We are to be thankful every day of the year. Taking this approach, we can notice all the small things and big things that are gifts from above (hint: everything!).
But, as a parent, I do feel there is value in something tangible for our children during this season as we teach them about thankfulness. Having visual aids are extremely helpful for children. These activities may also add a distinct and meaningful way of decorating and acknowledging the Holiday that so often gets lost between Halloween and Christmas.
One of my favorite ways of acknowledging this season, is using my Cricut to cut out leaves. I use several different colors and sometimes even fall-colored patterned paper. I keep these leaves in a bowl on my kitchen table. Every day or every few days (schedule dependent), we all take a moment to take a leaf out of the bowl and write down something we are thankful for that day. We then take the leaf and put removable tape on the back and put it on the wall of our eat-in kitchen. I love how it grows and expands to cover that wall by the time Thanksgiving arrives. It also adds a beautifully personal touch to the décor for entertaining family and friends.
Another twist on this that I have done, has been to find sticks or twigs in the yard and bring them inside and place them in a vase. I still have the leaves cut with my Cricut in lots of colors and patterns in a bowl beside the vase. I also add one hole in each leaf. On the same schedule as above, we write on the leaves something we are thankful for and then tie the leaf to the sticks in the middle of the table. This makes for a great centerpiece for the table on Thanksgiving. A wonderful reminder that we have so many things to be thankful for.
If you will be entertaining on Thanksgiving Day, a great way to incorporate Thankfulness in a tangible way for the kids can include having bulletin board paper as a table cloth. Be sure to provide crayons at each place setting and invite your guests to write some things they are thankful for on the table cloth. If families are grouped together, you can cut their section of the tablecloth to take with them if they choose.
These activities are a great way to introduce your family, and especially your children, to the idea of thankfulness for all things. But once Thanksgiving is over, carry this idea of thankfulness over to your daily prayers with your children. Encourage them to thank God for at least one thing each day. When our children are young, being thankful for a toy, animal, or family member. As our children grow and mature, the things they are thankful for will change, as well. Encourage them to look at their day and be thankful for someone they encountered or a specific incident that happened that day. You should also be modeling this element of thankfulness in your own prayers – in the morning, at dinner, at night, whenever you pray as a family or with your children. By incorporating this thankfulness into your family's every day prayer life, you can easily carry the idea of Thanksgiving into Thanks-Living.
Establishing an attitude of gratitude at an early age, will lead to an attitude of gratitude for life. It is important for us to recognize that all things come from God and to establish that foundation when our children our young. It is important for them to learn that all that we have belongs to the Lord and we are simply stewards charged with their care. If we are thankful for our children, we absolutely should be teaching them to thankful to God for all things, as we thank God for the gift of being their parents.
How have you taught your children about thankfulness? Have you tried any of these activities in the past? Do you have other ideas? Please share them below.