As Thanksgiving Day approaches the rush that accompanies this season begins. But even through all of the craziness this season brings, we must never lose sight of the special meaning behind it.
Thanksgiving is more than just a holiday. It is a day of reflection. Reflecting on the goodness of the Lord and His blessings, and more importantly expressing gratitude towards Him for all that He has done and continues to do in our lives.
There are so many ways to celebrate God's goodness and His many blessings, and I wanted to share a few tips I gathered while perusing the internet.
1. Tree of Thanks
Take advantage of the fall leaves to build a Tree of Thanks. Send the kids to the back yard for a tree branch and some fallen leaves. Plant the branch in a pot filled with craft sand. As family members arrive for Thanksgiving dinner, let the kids give each person either a real leaf or a cut out leaf from paper and ask the guests to write something on the leaf for which they are thankful. Use either paperclips or Christmas tree ornament hangers to hand the leaves on the branch.
2. A Servant's Heart: Spend the Day Volunteering
Nothing will remind us more of how much we have to be thankful for than spending your day at your local homeless shelter or food kitchen serving Thanksgiving dinner.
3. Adopt a Family
This one is similar to "A Servant's Heart, but with a a more personal and heartfelt touch. Get together with friends or your small group and find a family, a widow, or single mother currently struggling with unemployment, unplanned emergency bills and other hardships. Adopt the family for Thanksgiving, and bless them with food supplies, thanksgiving dinner, clothes, and toys or even help with unexpected expenses. Want to make it extra special? Prepare the entire Thanksgiving dinner at your home or theirs and spend Thanksgiving with them.
4. Blessing Book
Start a blessing book by buying a simple journal and have each family member write down one blessing from the past year. Keep the journal from year to year and have family members add new blessings every year. For those children that are not yet able to write, a simple picture will do.
5. The Wall of Gratitude
Pick out an entire wall for posting words of thanks throughout the Thanksgiving season. In your church or in your home, clearing out some wall space for “family” members to contribute thoughts, show gratitude and express thanks in writing and is perfect for cultivating an environment of thanksgiving as well as a place to reflect on some good news, for change. Get creative!
6. A Family Cookbook
Create a family cookbook by asking family members to bring their favorite recipe to Thanksgiving dinner. After you have finished your family cookbooks, give them as gifts to your family for Christmas.
7. Thanksgiving Communion
Have a family Communion on Thanksgiving to give thanks by reflecting Christ's life, death and resurrection.
8. A Thanksgiving Offering
Collect a Thanksgiving offering for a family in need or one of your favorite charities.
9. Make Thanksgiving Dinner Together
Give everyone small tasks like cleaning and peeling the potatoes, setting the table, and rolling out the crust for the pumpkin pie. Remember kids love to help, so use the opportunity to involve and enjoy them. The Thanksgiving meal may not end up meeting your standards, but the time well spent as a family is definitely well worth it!
10. Make a Memory Video
This year for a fun Thanksgiving activity, break out the video camera or camera phones. Have each person at the table talk about their favorite event, memory or blessing from the past year, as well as a hope or wish for the upcoming year. Be sure that every person at Thanksgiving dinner participates. You can even send a copy of the video to any family members who weren't able to share the day, or upload the video to your family website or digital scrapbook. Next Thanksgiving, play the old video and make a new one. Keep the tradition going!
11. Day After Thanksgiving Brunch
Host a brunch the morning after Thanksgiving. It's a great way to get rid of all those yummy leftovers, and enjoy a little extra time with family and friends.
12. Create a Gratitude Tablecloth
Create a plain tablecloth transformed into a family heirloom that will be cherished for generations. Place fabric markers around the Thanksgiving table and encourage guests to sign the tablecloth. They can also write a short blessing or message, and be sure to include the year. Each Thanksgiving, add more to the tablecloth and read over the notes from the previous years.