Thanksgiving

Raising Thankful Children

Growing up, most of us were taught to be thankful for what we had. For many of us, saying “thank you” was just as important as saying “excuse me” or “yes, ma’am.” If you grew up in the South, that was especially true for you! But beyond saying the words themselves, how do we teach our children to be truly thankful people? It starts by modeling real thankfulness.

Giving thanks before a meal is a great place to begin. After your prayer, explain everything that had to come together to make that meal happen. Talk about the plants and animals grown and harvested, the packing and shipping processes that delivered these goods to the store, the store clerks and workers who received it and put it out on display, the resources you needed to purchase the food, and all the time and effort to make the meal and set it out for them to enjoy. Maybe you could say something like, “When we thank God for our food, we remember all that had to happen to bring it to our table.”

Encouraging the "Thanks" in Thanksgiving

I love this time of year. The leaves turn many shades of beautiful, people wrap themselves in comfortable sweaters, and something about the air feels different as it turns crisp and cool. The fall season sets itself apart in beauty and the promise of something new. It’s a time to think about the past year and what God has done in our lives.

November is my favorite month—and not just because it’s my birthday month (shout out to my fellow November birthdays!). This month is the time when we give thanks for the many provisions, blessings, lessons, and growing moments God has given us. With Thanksgiving in our line of sight, why not start counting our blessings a little early?

Put the beauty of November to good use as you spend this month focusing on thankfulness. Teach your GAs, RAs, and CAs about the meaning of thankfulness and why we give praise and glory to God for everything from joys to hardships. Try these ideas to get your kids into a spirit of thankfulness as November kicks off:

Ukuleles, Gratitude, and the Presence of God

There are certainly typical Thanksgiving week activities—traveling to visit family members, making pies ahead of time and putting them in the freezer, cleaning the house in preparation for company, and making gratitude trees, jars, leaves, banners, and so on—as a way to visibly express our thankfulness. And then there are the not-so-typical Thanksgiving-week activities. Like the ukulele concert I attended last night, for instance.

A friend of mine plays the ukulele and has taken group lessons the past couple of years. Each November the group has offered a concert. Several of us have gone to support our ukulele-playing friend, and to enjoy the concert of a group of 10–12 ukulele players. Not only do they play in concert, but they play fun, popular songs, including some oldies. Audience members are given lyrics sheets and invited to sing along. And to my surprise, the audience has enthusiastically participated in these concert experiences.

Thanksgiving Grace

It was the first year Mackenzie was going to sit at the “grown-ups” table at Thanksgiving. She had aged out of the children’s table following the last round of babies born in the family and more space was needed at that table. As the oldest grandchild, she got to move to the dining table first. She was excited to sit with the adults—even though their conversation would probably be pretty dull. Anything would be better than trying to play peacemaker amongst her cousins all through the meal.

Mackenzie couldn’t wait until it was time for everyone to sit down together. This year there would be no need for fixing her plate early so she could sit with the other kids. Mackenzie could imagine it all. This year, she’d be passing the piping hot bowls of mashed potatoes, green beans, and corn, along with the enormous platter of turkey and dressing. The table would be filled with the family’s Thanksgiving favorites, along with a beautiful centerpiece, lit candles, and a beautifully set table—all on Nana’s treasured tablecloth that had belonged to her mother and grandmother before her.

Back to Top