One of my favorite parts about this time of year is that it causes us to intentionally think about what we are grateful for. There’s something about celebrating a holiday called Thanksgiving that encourages us to do just that- give thanks! We all can get out of the habit of doing this, and this season can be a good time to refresh our thinking. My goal is to not just be thankful this time of year but to carry an attitude of gratitude into the New Year and beyond—to develop a habit of being grateful. So, how can we actually put this into practice? Here are some ideas. My hope is that these will help foster thankfulness not only in yourself but help you encourage your family and teach your children how to do the same.
-Use social media to share who and what you appreciate.
Like it or not, social media seems to be the way to get the word out. If we use social media to voice so many things, let’s use it to spread thankfulness, too. It would be such a blessing to family and friends that live near and far to see you post about why you are grateful for them. Consider “highlighting” one person each day to mention and tag in your post or tweet. Why not write about something that you are grateful for from your day instead of posting a silly story or frustrating circumstance? Try writing about something you are thankful for each day during the month of November or every day between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Your commitment to being grateful every day may encourage others to try doing the same, and it will start developing a habit in you to find something to be thankful for each day.
-Have an intentional sharing time during the Thanksgiving meal to give thanks.
During or at the end of the big meal, ask everyone to share something they are grateful for from the past year. It could be as big or as small as they want–a significant occurrence or an everyday blessing. This simple time of sharing can be really meaningful. It is a great demonstration to children that all of us- young and old- can and should find things to be grateful for in our lives. If an open-ended conversation won’t work with your family’s dynamics, choose a topic to narrow down the conversation such as a person you are grateful for and why.
-Help young children foster gratitude in a simple, kid-friendly way.
If you have young children and still want them to participate in the sharing time about what they are thankful for but know they may need some structure, do an activity in advance that your child can show at the meal. You will want to ask them what they are thankful for but will also need to provide some modeling for them by using examples from your own life of why you are thankful for the things you say you are. When your child has decided on the things they are thankful for, help them write them down.
Here’s a fun way to do it: Trace your child’s hand on a colorful sheet of paper. Have them color in their hand. Add stick legs to the bottom of the palm of the hand in the picture. Also, add a face of a turkey to the thumb of their hand drawing. The other fingers serve as the feathers. You’ve now created a turkey, and you can write something your child tells you they are thankful for on each “feather”. Your child will love showing their turkey to the guests at the meal, and this will allow them to participate in the gratitude conversation in their own way.