Squeezed between Halloween and Christmas, Thanksgiving can often be overlooked during the holiday season. Or at the most, become only a day of family, food and football. You can make it more memorable and meaningful for your family by making it a month-long celebration of gratitude.
Family Night of Gratitude
Pick a night before the first of November and have a family lesson on gratitude and what being thankful means. Introduce the ways your family is going to seek to have an attitude of gratitude all month in preparation for your Thanksgiving celebration. Learning why you celebrate Thanksgiving will help your family have a more meaningful holiday.
Scriptures of Gratitude
Start the month out right by reading a scripture on gratitude each day beginning Nov. 1. Look in the index of your Bible to find them. Create a list and assign one to each day through Thanksgiving. As a family, read the scripture and then discuss how it relates to your family or helps you to become more grateful.
Journal of Gratitude
One year while working with youths in my church, I had them create gratitude journals. The purpose was to have them look beyond themselves and recognize the hand of the Lord in their lives. This is a great way to have your family learn to express their gratitude.
Give each family a small journal or notebook and have them begin a journal of gratitude. You can have each member decorate their journal with stickers or pictures to make it uniquely their own. Then each day (perhaps after the scripture of gratitude) have each person write what they are thankful for in their journal. As you progress in writing each day, you will be amazed at your ability to see blessings in your life beyond the everyday expected ones.
Boat of Gratitude
One year, when our children were small we made a boat out of an empty milk carton, added a sail and decorated it. Beside it we had strips of paper to write things we were thankful for and then place into the boat. On Thanksgiving Day we read the strips of all the things our family was grateful for. A similar concept would be to have a tree made from a branch where paper hearts or leaves are added after writing something you are thankful for. The idea is to show there is much your family can and should be thankful for. It makes a great centerpiece for your Thanksgiving table too.
Demonstration of Gratitude
My in-laws have a wonderful tradition at Thanksgiving. My father in-law is one of seven children and each year they collected food for needy families in their community. The night before Thanksgiving they delivered food to these families. They came from very humble circumstances and loved the opportunity to show their gratitude by sharing their bounty with others.
There are different ways your family could show your gratitude through acts of service. Perhaps you could have a food drive in your neighborhood for a local food bank. Or your family could go serve Thanksgiving dinner at a local soup kitchen. Or simply invite someone who might be alone for the holiday to share in your celebrations.
In whatever way your family decides to honor this holiday, learning to more fully show your gratitude to one another and to God, will help you grow closer to each other and to him. Taking the time to celebrate and recognize your blessings for an entire month will better prepare you to appreciate the greatest gift ever given to you — the Savior, Jesus Christ.