Since 1789, when President George Washington declared that there be a celebration of feasting and thanksgiving, Americans have been celebrating around the table with loved ones. Turkey may be at the center of our tables, but thankfulness should be in the center of our hearts and our thoughts. Let’s keep the focus of Thanksgiving on thankfulness.
It’s so easy to become discontent these days. Whether through television, Facebook, or music, we see other people flaunt what they have . . . and consequently, what we have doesn’t seem so nice any more.
We are content with our three-bedroom house—until we see a four- bedroom house on HGTV.
Our MP3 player was enough—until we compared it with someone’s new iPod.
Checking books out of the library was great—until we see someone’s Kindle that can hold hundreds of books.
Comparisons destroy thankfulness.
Family Thankfulness Ideas to Bless Others….and you!
The best way we’ve found to be content with what we have is to focus on being thankful. Here are a few practical ways to make Thanksgiving about more than food and football.
- List “necessary people” you can bless. As a family, think through the people who are necessary for you to do life. Teachers. The mail carrier. The bank teller or grocery store clerk. Police officers and fire-fighters. The garbage collector. Now, have a baking day and make loaves of pumpkin bread or batches of oatmeal cookies with dried cranberries instead of raisins. Or even form an assembly line and bag up batches of homemade trail mix. Deliver to your necessary people with a handwritten tag thanking them for faithfully serving your family all year long.
- Create a countdown calendar. Create your own countdown to Thanksgiving calendar by cutting shapes of leaves in different colors. Make one for every day from November 1 until Thanksgiving. Number them and tape them onto the refrigerator. Every day, write one thing you are thankful to God for on the leaf for that day. By Thanksgiving your refrigerator will be filled with reminders of all God has given your family.
- Keep a thankfulness journal as a family. Every day, fill in something you are thankful for and why. For example, I’m thankful for my fingers so I can write. Or, my husband is thankful that we live where winters are warm so he can run. Start it on Thanksgiving Day and take turns writing in your journal as often as you can throughout the year. Make sure you date it so you can look back and remember. Or, to put a twist on this idea, write the items with permanent markers on a ready-made banner or table runner made out of light-colored fabric. Display during your Thanksgiving dinner and in the years to come as a tradition.
- Welcome singles. Do you know someone who might be alone on Thanksgiving? Invite them to join your family for dinner. Offer to pick them up if driving is a challenge.
- Plan an outreach project. After dinner is over on Thanksgiving, discuss as a family how you will reach out to others in the coming Christmas season. Be intentional in scheduling time to do this as a family.
- Host a theme dinner. Try your hand at a colonial Thanksgiving dinner, or another theme that suits your family—perhaps one that reminds you of a recent vacation or other favorite place.
With a little advanced planning, your family can make Thanksgiving about so much more than just turkey this year!
Note: If you enjoyed this post, check out Karen Ehman’s newest book Everyday Confetti: Your Year-Round Guide for Celebrating Holidays and Special Occasions.
If you order it from now until December 15 from Proverbs 31 Ministries and forward a copy of your receipt to email@example.com you will be sent a PDF called “Tips for a Simple, Sacred Christmas.”
This whimsical, idea-packed printable includes a family holiday re-evaluation survey, instructions for how to set up a Christmas binder to keep yourself organized, simple crowd-pleasing recipes and ideas for family fun and outreach activities at the holidays.