Start with a pint or quart-size jar with a cover. Every day (or more often, if you’d like) each of your children and you parents write on a slip of paper (your younger children can dictate to you) something you’re thankful for. The goal is to fill the jar before Thanksgiving. At the evening meal or once a week, (or at Thanksgiving) have your children take turns drawing a Thankful Slip out of the jar and then read it out loud and pray, thanking God for what was written on the slip, (and anything else you would like). You can decorate the outside of the jar and the cover, put raffia around it or ribbon, if you like. This will make you want to leave it out in plain sight, which will remind everyone to be thankful!
Older children, teens and young adults can do a variation on this theme, and make a list, which you all read once a week. Our family has done this a few years, and on Sunday mornings in November we’d gather, or you can do this on Thanksgiving Day, we read our lists to one another. This was amazingly bonding, and is eye-opening as it lets you in on what your older children and teens are thinking.
Write a letter of gratitude to someone. For a number of years, all four of us have written a note of gratitude to each of our three teaching elders in our church. Then we put them all in an envelope and give them to them on Sunday or mail them. Writing out your thanks makes you really think about how much you have to be grateful for, and the extra effort really makes the recipient feel special–plus they can keep it and read it over and over again.
For small children: 1 idea, 2 ways of doing it. Draw a tree (see above or go to A Thanksgiving Tree) with a trunk and branches, but no leaves, or a turkey with a body (basically a circle) and a head, but no feathers. Then have the children think of something daily that they’re grateful for, and write it on a piece of paper in the shape of a leaf (or trace their hand in colored paper for fall leaves) or a feather, depending on your theme. Add leaves and feathers daily, and try to have a full tree or turkey by Thanksgiving!
While you’re busy at home or at work, stop and think of something for which to say “Thank You, Lord” once every hour of the day.
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