“Mommy, what’s Thanksgiving?” asked my curious preschooler.
I thought I’d keep it simple and skip the part about the Pilgrims. “It’s the day in November that we meet with our family and cook lots of lots of food—especially turkey—and take turns being thankful to God for something that has helped us this year.”
Content with my answer, she continued to play tea party with her stuffed animals. And, I got to thinking about the thanks-giving that has helped me endure when life got hard.
Not sure exactly how long ago I started, but I’ve been keeping a daily record of things I’m thankful for. Stacks and stacks of notebooks are now filled with little jots of musings and observations. Sometimes, I’ve gone weeks without writing in it. But, it’s always been worthwhile to take time to ponder what I’m thankful for, to write it down and dwell in the peace that thanks-giving brings.
Have you ever noticed, when we are thankful, problems shrink? Circumstances may not change, but thankfulness makes them seem lighter, more bearable. And, being thankful makes it easier to deal with the tasks at hand when life seems overwhelming.
5 Ways to Cultivate Thankfulness
1. Keep a Thanks-Giving Journal
Keep individual journals for personal use and share one as a family. Start counting blessings—big and small, jotting them down in your journal. Leave the family journal along with a pen on a table in the kitchen or living room. Prompt older children each day by sharing entries from your personal journal. Children who can’t write yet can draw pictures of what they’re thankful for.
2. Hang a Thanks-Giving Board
Either a white board or chalkboard will do. Family members can take turns writing daily thanks. Children less likely to write in a journal will be more willing to write on the board.
3. Make a Thanks-Giving Tree
Going on a nature hunt with your children, find thin bare branches to set in a large vase. Cut leaves out of construction paper, punch a hole on one end, and tie on a loop with a piece of yarn. Keep a pen or marker handy to write down blessings on the leaves and hang them on the Thanks-Giving Tree.
4. Craft a Thanks-Giving Paper Chain
You can get a free printable here. Watch it grow and use as a homemade decoration for Thanksgiving day.
5. Create a Thanks-Giving Collage
Use photos or break out some old magazines. Cut and paste on cardstock the things we are thankful for and display for everyone to see.
By learning to be more thankful ourselves, we teach our children how to grow in gratitude. And, November doesn’t have to be the only month we cultivate thankfulness. It can be a daily habit we can practice our whole life through.