Thanksgiving is fast approaching and what are we teaching our kids about being thankful? Is it enough to have them begrudgingly murmur “thank you”, when they receive a pair of pajamas and not the high speed train that they wanted for Christmas? Or is there something more?
Being thankful is more than just being polite. It’s a necessary practice that can pay huge dividends for those that choose gratitude. In a society where everyone wants more…more money, more clothes, more “likes”, more presents… it’s easy to get caught up in it all. But you don’t have to. Here are some ways to put the “thanks” back in Thanksgiving.
Start the Meal in Prayer
The maker of all things and all people needs a little praise don’t you think? That’s a good place to start. The time to thank God for having food on the table, is when you have food on the table. We all have that friend that only knows our number when they need something. Don’t be that friend.
Volunteer at a Shelter
So many shelters and charities are in need of a helping hand. Joe Volunteer is a brand new website that brings volunteers and organizations together. In addition, you can talk to people in your community or do quick online search to find out the needs of your neighborhood and community.
Invite Another Family for Thanksgiving
There are a number of people that would just love an invite to your home for Thanksgiving. You just have to find out who they are. It may be that military family that lives down the street, whose husband is deployed while the wife stays home with their three kids. It may be a widowed woman that says, “I don’t celebrate Thanksgiving”. But secretly, she wishes that she had someone to spend Thanksgiving with. It may be a college student, spending his first year away from home and couldn’t afford another expense to go back home for the holiday. You just never know.
Donate Food Items to a Local Charity
Open your pantry. There is love in every can. Several churches even have collection sites set up to make donating canned and other non-perishable goods easier.
Start a Gratitude Journal
Even with our best intentions of being thankful, how soon we forget the blessings of the days past. Start a gratitude journal and write one thing that you are thankful for each day. Reflect on those blessings on Thanksgiving Day and any days when you just need a reminder. In a year’s time you’ll have more than enough insight, inspiration and reasons to be thankful.
Hint: Don’t wait until tomorrow to start this. Start today.
Write Thank You Cards to People that Have Had an Impact on Your Life
Take some time and write thank you cards to the people in your life that deserve it. Not as a reflex action due to a gesture or some gift. Write a thank you card because they were there.
Have Each Dinner Guest Say One Thing They are Thankful For
Before you dive into that Thanksgiving turkey, go around the table and have each person say what they are thankful for. Gratitude is energizing. Energy is contagious.
Read a Thanksgiving Book
Especially for young children, nothing makes a concept come alive like the pages of a good book. Take it back to the basics and teach your kids what Thanksgiving is about.
Go Through Toys, Clothes and Books and Donate Gently Used Items
Most of us have more things than we will ever need. Consider giving some things away. Clothes that no longer fit, books you no longer read, and the toys that the kids no longer play with are a great place to start. Not only will this help someone else, but you’ll have a great start on those New Year’s Resolutions and keeping things clutter-free.
Skip the Shopping (Just Today) and Savor Being with Your Family
Long are the days when retailers refrained from opening their doors on Thanksgiving Day. Nordstrom proudly kept their stores closed on Thanksgiving Day of last year. Sadly, Nordstrom is in the minority and more stores are interested in reaching their revenue goals versus keeping up with the original intent of the Thanksgiving holiday.
The alternative to braving long lines in chilly weather is savoring the last slice of auntie’s sweet potato pie.
Cuddling with the kids as you watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade.
Listening to your brother chat a little longer because he’s only home for the weekend and you barely ever see each other any more.
And spending the day in complete gratitude and appreciation because today…today is all we’ve got.