Friday, November 20, 2009
Thanksgiving: A Time to be Thankful
Wow, it has been a fun week following this series! And, I feel like I get the fun part of sharing about decoration ideas and traditions! As I began to think about this, I thought a good first place to start was in preparing our hearts for thankfulness. How can I communicate that to my children? How do I instill a grateful heart, when our human nature urges us to want more or better?
One of my favorite books for young children on thankfulness is Count Your Blessings. Little Bear and his mama count through his days all the things he has to be thankful for. I decided it would be fun for my girls to make their own book counting things they are thankful for.
I am planning to do this with my girls: look around for things we are thankful for - one thing, two things, etc... all the way to ten. We will take pictures, print them out and make a little book out of them. It would also be fun to make them into coloring pages for them to decorate! Try this site using this code (PR24QCHT) to create these! (Thanks, Carrie!)
Another thing we do every November, is something my Mom started when we were growing up. I've shared about this on my blog before - but since it is a tradition, it is worth sharing again! My Mom would make a chart that had all the letters of the alphabet down one side and, during the month of November, we would write things next to that letter we were thankful for that started with that letter.
I've created a table in Word that can just be printed, cut out and taped into one long strip, and have continued this tradition every year in my home as well. Click on the pages to enlarge and print if you are interested in doing this in your home.
After we have begun creating a mindset and heart of thankfulness in ourselves, the next thought that comes to me is how can we reach out to others. During big holidays like this, there are many who are overlooked. Many who do not think this is a happy time or maybe feel like they don't have anything to be thankful for.
I remember in my late teen years and then when I was single, going to a soup kitchen to help serve Thanksgiving dinner. I have tried locating something like that where I live, but haven't been successful at finding a place seeking help.
When that happens, it forces us to be creative doesn't it? I want my children to remember reaching out to others for as long as they can remember. I don't necessarily think that they aren't old enough to start learning now.
Now, lots of you know that my husband is a police officer. And, when I asked his advice about this dilemma, he suggested that we offer to have an open house on Thanksgiving afternoon to allow the officers working that day a chance to come by and have a warm and tasty meal. I love that idea!
I can certainly remember the days when it was my husband who was having to work on holidays and I appreciate the service of these men and women to our community. We usually eat our family dinner in the evening anyway, so it works great for us to make the meals available in the afternoon. We just found out they are going to take us up on this and I'm planning to have my girls draw pictures to present to each officer as well to help include them in the opportunity.
Of course, each family will have to think of what would suit their situation, family size, age of children, etc... But, here are a few ideas to get you going:
* Check with your local police or fire stations to find out about serving those who are faithfully serving your community.
* Call Meals on Wheels and volunteer to deliver meals on Thanksgiving Day to give regular volunteers a day off with their families.
* Find a local Soup Kitchen or Salvation Army that is serving dinner and volunteer.
* Check with your local hospital, children's hospital or nursing home to find out how you could help there.
* Call a children's or women's shelter and inquire about serving.
This is just a small sample of ideas we could check into. The main thing is how we present it to our children.
One other thought on reaching out is something we do every year as well! This is another one I mentioned last year, which is the Thankful for You Breakfast tradition. Each year, I make and deliver a special Thanksgiving breakfast to someone who has been a blessing to me or our family during the previous year as a way of saying we are thankful for them. You can read more about this idea and find recipes here.
Now that we have prepared thankful hearts and actually reached out and served others, let's talk about our own table and how to make it special.
I am one of those people who likes to think of something new and different every year, something that makes the table special and beautiful. Here are the things I'm planing this year:
I started with a simple piece of burlap as a table runner! Next, add your dishes ~ napkins, silverware and glasses to make sure you have enough room for the important things!
Now, comes the fun part! Look around and find a pitcher, pot, anything that you like for the centerpiece. I tied a ribbon around mine and an old pocket watch to tie in with the idea of a "Time to be Thankful" ~ now, go outside and find some limbs: your choice! Either with leaves on or off, whatever you think looks pretty. Provide markers to have guests write things on the leaves they are thankful for!
The pumpkins have been on my porch decorating for Fall out there. After Thanksgiving, I will cook and puree them for making pies.
Create place cards! I used old spice and perfume bottles here and filled them with pumpkin pods and corn. Gather some sticks from your yard and cut out scrapbook paper - top with a photo of the guest and there you have it!
I am Thankful For cards: Having just gone through a family loss - it reminds me that often we aren't practiced at sharing with those close to us why we are thankful for them or love them. Why not take the opportunity to share while we can!?
Another fun idea would be to learn a hymn together as a family. Memorize a special passage of Scripture, study about the first Thanksgiving, there are so many things you can incorporate!
I've had fun sharing about our Thanksgiving traditions and would love to hear yours as well! Don't forget to link up your Thanksgiving ideas tomorrow at Crystal's and thanks so much for joining all of us this week for this Thanksgiving series!